Sunday, January 31, 2010

Carrot cake oats and eggs

Thought I would take another walk on the culinary wild side this morning, with a recipe I stumbled upon while surfing for something unrelated. That always seems to happen- I start out looking for inspiration for a school unit and wind up finding a gem of information on how to re-wire a lamp or make indoor compost or so forth. I cut and pasted the recipe into a note, saved it , but forgot to note just who it was that created it.

Carrot Cake Oats

(Yield: 1 serving)

1/4 c oats
1/2 medium banana, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
1 TB raisins
3/4 c water
Dash salt
Dash pumpkin pie spice
1 TB chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 oz Neufchatel cheese
1/2 tsp honey (or other sweetener)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a small pan, combine the oats, banana, carrot, raisins, water, salt, and a dash of
pumpkin pie spice; heat on medium-low heat for about 12 minutes (stirring frequently) until it reaches your desired consistency. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the frosting. Serve the oats topped with the frosting and nuts.

I give it a thumbs up for a special occasion , but it's a little too fiddly for a fast morning. This week hubby has a little bit of a later schedual, we were all up early, so it was a go ahead.

On the decorating for Lent front, I was pointed to a site with some very clever ideas that I thought I would share - Kitchen Stewardship . I am thinking some of these , accompanied with an old tabletop zen garden and other items will be just the ticket. Simple, meaningful and a visual prompt to focus. And then of course later this week I can begin my annual round of Psanky making- those elaborate wax resist dyed Ukrainian Easter eggs. Can't wait !

Speaking of eggs- remember all of the broo ha ha about eggs being bad for you because of cholesterol ? It never was true. 30 years of research have proven that dietary cholesterol has little, if anything to do with blood serum cholesterol That is something that happens in the liver due to other factors, and not something as wonderful and natural as the consumption of eggs. Nature never makes a mistake in the design - something that is rather difficult for some to comprehend. Eggs are a very healthy food . Consider the following points ( from
  • Weight management: The high-quality protein in eggs helps you to feel full longer and stay energized, which contributes to maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Muscle strength and muscle-loss prevention: Research indicates that high-quality protein may help active adults build muscle strength and help prevent muscle loss in middle-aged and aging adults.
  • Healthy pregnancy: Egg yolks are an excellent source of choline, an essential nutrient that contributes to fetal brain development and helps prevent birth defects. Two eggs provide about 250 milligrams of choline, or roughly half of the recommended daily intake for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Brain function: Choline also aids the brain function of adults by maintaining the structure of brain cell membranes, and is a key component of the neuro-transmitter that helps relay messages from the brain through nerves to the muscles.
  • Eye health: Lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants found in egg yolks, help prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of age-related blindness. Though eggs contain a small amount of these two nutrients, research shows that the lutein from eggs may be more bioavailable than lutein from other food sources.
So now my quandry will be how many should I buy per week ? Eating some, decorating more...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A new squash , baking and looking for ideas

Busy day around here ! Weekends are always busy for us , as it is time to run errands and so forth. Grocery shopping day , and i am going to try a brand new to me squash this week- a kabocha. According to one site :

"Kabocha squash have a remarkably sweet and tender flesh with a slightly nutty flavor. The peel is really more of a rind and is difficult to cut. The dense, smooth, sweet flesh is so tasty it needs very little fuss in preparation. Roasting it or slicing and baking it with a bit of butter or oil and salt are all this delicious squash needs. The dense flesh also holds its shaped with cooked, even in liquids, which makes it perfect for using as chunks in soups or steamed dishes. It pairs well with ginger and sesame as well.

Kabocha squash are large, round, and squat. They are dark green and mottled, often with bumpy skin and make lovely table decoration until they're cooked."

I am thinking that it has to be very similar to a butternut squash in preparation, and must taste very similar. I have only recently heard about this variety and it is the first time I have seen it in our market, so it will be a bit of an adventure.

Saturdays are n0rmally our treat day, and this weeks treat is also a bit of an adventure. It is cold out ( has not even reached 30 degrees the last few days) so something that requires the running of the oven is much appreciated. I am trying something called 1 Point Cake. ( 1 point refers to the point count for Weight Watchers- or something that is less than 50 calories and low fat to the rest of the world). To make it you take a boxed cake mix ( I happened to have a Reduced sugar yellow cake mix) and pour in one can of diet soda. Mix, and bake according to the package directions. I am baking this as cup cakes and topping with a squirt of whipped cream. It makes 21 cup cakes and this way several can be frozen and enjoyed at another time. It's a quick to make treat that fits in with the rhythm of this day.

Scale wise this week is a maintain all around. There are weeks like this - the body moves at it's own pace for many reasons.

I am feeling very edgy today ! It is days away from one of the ancient earth honoring festivals ( called Imbolic, meaning the milk of the lambs), and it is due to all this earth energy rising up. While it may look like winter outside due to a cover of snow and ice, the trees are beginning to experience a rising of sap and in different sun warmed locations a contrary crocus or Jack by the Hedge is appearing through the snow. If you look closely at the tree branches , you will see slightly swelling buds, and you will notice the days are definitely longer. All of these are signs of spring, and the coming of the growing year. It is a time of restless energy and cabin fever. Did you know that the word February is based on a latin word meaning fever ? It's true. It's a restless, stirring fevered time for all of nature in the northern hemesphere.

Next week is Superbowl Sunday, then Valentines day and 3 days later it is Ash Wednesday - the begining of Lent. I am not Catholic , but my husband is, and I am trying to create a meaningful table display to stay up during the 40 days of Lent. During Advent we had a display of advent candles ( three purple and one rose) , as well as a small collection of Gift Giver figures. It made for a very nice thing to focus and center yourself with every day , and I think it would be nice to do something similar for this time. Advent is fairly easy to base themes on, but Lent is very tricky. It is a time of purification or examination where one tries to focus on the big event that is to come- the ulimate gift if you will. My thoughts seem to run to desert type themes, but it feels like that needs a bit more emphasis. Do any of you do anything similar in your homes ? Do you know of any webpages where these sorts of ideas are displayed ?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Water and walnut hummus

This morning while I was rowing on my Wii, a thought crossed my mind- canoeing is kind of like flying on water. Once you get the speed up, it's an exhilarating feeling ! Yes you have to watch for hazards and obsticles, but it gives me a freedom unlike anything on land. I get the same feeling from swimming as well. For a short time in my teen years I was a member of the Park District swim team, with the butterfly stroke as my event. Yes, fat girls can swim , and even do so competitively ! I broke no records, but I remember feeling like I was flying on water while I was practicing and competing. I have often considered learning to fly a plane for the same reasons. I will not fly as a passenger for reasons of a crippling fear, but I would pilot a plane in a heartbeat. I have begun to wonder if this love of feeling like I am flying on water has something to do with this Yin deficiency thing. I have a really deep connection to water that manifests when I do shamanic work, and the two have me wondering. And while I ponder, I fly on the virtual water and it is a little time spent in Heaven every morning. They say if you find an exercise or sport you love you will be more likely to do it often. I am in total agreement. Find the thing that speaks to your soul and your body will cooperate .

I have begun to notice non scale benefits from the rowing- I am able to stand and walk longer without pain in my hip , knees and lower back. Makes no sense according to the conventional wisdom because technically it is not strengthening my legs or abs one bit. It does get the blood circulating and gets me to take in an increased level or oxygen, but why is it helping my arthritic problems ? Could it perhaps be this weird water thing ? Don't know, don't care- just going to keep doing it !

After my workout I remebered that we were out of hummus for our current favorite must have lunch of hummus flatbread pizza, so time to make a batch. I decided to try this variety - walnut hummus. Normally hummus is made with tahini , which is made from sesame seeds and oil. However, it seems that any combination of beans, oils and nuts or seeds will work. Hence, Walnut Hummus can be made with somewhat easier to obtain and cheaper ingredients. It tastes very yum , and i can't wait to try it on our pizza at lunch !
Walnut Hummus

3 T lemon Juice
1/4 c water
3/4 c walnuts
2 T olive oil
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 t garlic
1/2 t salt
1 t dried parsley

Place all in food processor and process till smooth. Serve with crakers, veggies, fingers....

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Big fat liar

Yesterday I was reminded of one great big reason I cringe when I hear someone who claims to be educated in human nutrition call fat bad in someones diet. It's a hallmark of a very bad education, and these pronouncements discredit anything else they have to say on the subject. Fat is one of the primary needs in the human body after all. Without fat, a few very important vitamins will not make it from the food on your plate to the organs in your body they are meant to nourish, and problems occur. To say that "a high fat diet is bad" is like gifting a person with a steering wheel and tires, but without the engine, driveshaft, axle and so forth and expect them to drive cross country. Don't take my word for it- here are some facts:

"Fat is one of the 3 nutrients (along with protein and carbohydrates)
that supply calories to the body. Fat provides 9 calories per gram,
more than twice the number provided by carbohydrates or protein.

Fat is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Fats provide
essential fatty acids, which are not made by the body and must be obtained
from food. The essential fatty acids are linoleic and linolenic acid. They
are important for controlling inflammation, blood clotting, and brain development.

Fat serves as the storage substance for the body's extra calories. It fills
the fat cells (adipose tissue) that help insulate the body. Fats are also an
important energy source. When the body has used up the calories from
carbohydrates, which occurs after the first 20 minutes of exercise, it begins
to depend on the calories from fat.

Healthy skin and hair are maintained by fat. Fat helps the body absorb and move
the vitamins A, D, E, and K through the bloodstream."

So in short, a diet low in fat will make your brain shrink and get less supple, make you feel freezing, make your joints swell, arteries stiffen and eventually rupture and then you will most likely bleed to death because your blood cannot clot and stop the damage. All this to be bikini ready by summer ??? Gee- count me in !

"Vitamin A, also called retinol, helps your eyes adjust to light changes when you
come in from outside and also helps keep your eyes, skin and mucous membranes moist.
Vitamin A mostly comes from animal foods, but some plant-based foods supply beta-carotene,
which your body then converts into Vitamin A. It also has antioxidant properties that
neutralize free radicals in the body that cause tissue and cellular damage."

Top sources of vitamin A include:

* Beef liver
* Egg yolk
* Cheddar cheese
* Fortified milk"

So, when Ms Knowital RD tells me to give up beef liver, egg yolks , cheddar and milk because it is bad for my health, I will know that my dry cracking skin, cronic dry eyes, perpetual sinus infections from dried out nasal passages, rectal bleeding from anal fissures, vaginal dryness and vision problems are "all good signs" of my progress.

"Vitamin D is a steroid vitamin, a group of fat-soluble prohormones, which encourages
the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous.
* It is crucial for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous, which have various functions, especially the maintenance of healthy bones.
* It is an immune system regulator.
* It may be an important way to arm the immune system against disorders like the common cold, say scientists from the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Children's Hospital Boston.
* It may reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is much
less common the nearer you get to the tropics, where there is much more sunlight, according
to Dennis Bourdette, chairman of the Department of Neurology and director of the Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center at Oregon Health and Science University, USA.
* Vitamin D may have a key role in helping the brain to keep working well in later life,
according to a study of 3000 European men between the ages of 40 and 79.
* Vitamin D is probably linked to maintaining a healthy body weight, according to research
carried out at the Medical College of Georgia, USA.
* It can reduce the severity and frequency of asthma symptoms, and also the likelihood of
hospitalizations due to asthma, researchers from Harvard Medical School found after monitoring
616 children in Costa Rica.
* It has been shown to reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women.
* A form of vitamin D could be one of our body's main protections against damage from low
levels of radiation, say radiological experts from the New York City Department of Health and
Mental Hygiene.
* Various studies have shown that people with adequate levels of vitamin D have a significantly
lower risk of developing cancer, compared to people with lower levels. Vitamin D deficiency was found to be prevalent in cancer patients regardless of nutritional status, in a study carried out by Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Natural Sources include oily fish, eggs, liver cheese and sunlight"

Hmm, so now you are telling me that not only will the above problems will happen but further good things like Rheumatoid arthritis , several types of cancer and Multiple Sclerosis may be mine soon as well ??? What a deal ! Your weight loss ideas are appearing better and better !

"Vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is an essential nutrient for
humans. It is believed that vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that protects cell membranes and
other fat-soluble parts of the body, such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from damage.It also appears to protect the body against cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer and has demonstrated immune-enhancing effects.

Natural sources include almonds, avacados, asparagus, whole eggs, hazlenuts ,mangoes, olive oil,peanuts, soybeans, spinach,sweet potatoes, tomatoes,turnip greens, walnuts and wheat germ"

So, if I include tossing nuts and avocadoes because they are high fat and fat is the enemy, I can increase my risk of bad cholesterol , cancer and cardiovascular disease ??? Boy, your ideas are sounding better and better by the moment !

"Vitamin K is commonly known to aid in blood clotting. When the body is injured, vitamin K initiates the process of healing by slowing and stopping the bleeding.Recent studies have suggested that vitamin K can help prevent or treat osteoporosis and the loss of bone density. If you have a family history of osteoporosis, it is important to make sure you maintain healthy levels of vitamin K.

Natural sources include many dried green herbs like basil, spinach , chard and collards."

Well you advocate eating a lot of these. But if I do not have adequate fat in my diet, how exactly do the nutrients get from my plate to the systems they are meant to nourish ? Isn't that a little like writing a check for a bill but never putting it in the mailbox ???

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An observation

Is it really necessary to make an episode of The Biggest Loser look like a descent into The Jerry Springer Show ???

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

East and west, hot and cold

Yesterday was one of those great flowing sort of days where you are able to accomplish what you must and what you desire to do. I was able to devote time to my herbal studies, sparked by a post written by a well respected herbal instructor. This teacher specializes in the blending of western and eastern herbal philosophy, and in the past I have found his findings to be very accurate in treatment of different ailments I had encountered. Today's information dealt with something called a Yin Deficiency, and it led me to research on herbs and foods that would help bring this into balance.

Eastern medicine (yin and yang) is based on balance and five elemental factors- earth, ,fire, wood, water and metal. Western Medicine operates with beliefs that specific chemical compounds have specific affects ( diuretic, tonic, antiseptic and so forth) . Eastern medicine belives that all disease is a manifestation of an inbalance between the forces of yin and yang( dry vs wet, cold vs hot and so forth). Eastern medicine seeks to recreate the body's balance and therefor bring a state of wellness. It is fascinating , simplistic and yet incredibly complicated for the western mind to grasp. It has a history of practice that predates western medicine by several thousand years, and in several aspects has a greater body of knowledge to draw from. Study of both schools of thought makes for a deeper understanding of the human body.

So what does this have to do with weight loss you ask ? In this instance, it provides and illustration of one of those moments where the Universe is trying to hit me over the head with a 2x4. Last week the discovery of the old journals then the inclusion of higher fiber and healthy fats in my diet , and now...Kidney Meridian Yin Deficiancy.

Let me explain- in eastern medicine a meridian is sort of a highway for energetic patterns in the body that is very similar to electricity. It is named for a specific organ, but it flows through much more than just the organ. The Kidney meridian is the energetic pathway that controls many of our bodily fluids, and emotions like fear- or at least shows up in these things when it gets imbalanced. Yang is heat, Yin is cooling and it seems as we age this meridian can become yin deficiant. Spicy foods, stress, the normal aging process bring about this condition. The restoration of this is through meaningful rest( spiritual activities, creative pursuits, restorative gentil walks) blue/black colored foods such as blueberries, BLACK BEANS,( all beans are included for their shape but not color) black sesame seeds and HEALTY FAT foods such as nuts and seeds. Herbal infusions such as nettle, oatstraw and astragalus are also beneficial.

Wow ! It is EXACTLY what I had been led to . Further reading about symptoms that indicate a kidney yin deficiancy almost looked like they could be a description for symptoms I have been dealign with for a while and had a strange hunch could be related.I have had this happen several other times for other things and I always attribute it to my Guides ( what some would call Guardian Angels) watching out for me and leading me to what I must know.

Simply conformation that I am on the right track. Time to find further interesting ways to get those blue black foods and healthy fats in my diet !

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hats off to my brave guys !

I seem to have a very brave and adventurous family, who has come to trust my judgment and skill in the kitchen. My husband has always been that way ( and the things I have subjected his palate to over the years are the stuff of legend), but one of the biggest changes since we began our journey is that of my son. He has gone from only willing to eat 3 foods ( or having a neurological melt down, not a behavior issue) , to eating just about anything that is not nailed down. With this fact in mind, I was able to inflict two experiments on them, which were thankfully a success !

The first, a new variation on the black bean brownie recipe. I have tried making them from scratch instead of a mix, but they come out a little dry. Adding about 2 tablespoons of olive oil made them better, but then I got inspired. It seems that some people ( including an anonymous commenter on this blog) use avocado as a butter substitute on toast. Makes sense, as it is a healthy fat, creamy and can take on seasonings rather well. If this works, would it preform the same in baked goods ? Hence, the Black Bean Avocado Brownie was born !

Black bean avocado Brownies

1, 15 oz can black beans with liquid
1 avocado, pit and skin removed
3/4 cup splenda( for reasons of blood sugar)
½ cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup egg beaters
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t Cayenne pepper( chili and chocolate have an energetic affect)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, process beans and avocados till smooth.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients and stir well.
Place in 12 muffin pan ( 1/4 cup mixture per cup). Bake for 20 minutes, Cool for
about 1 hour on a rack at room temperature.

The results were a moist brownie with a smooth mouth feel, just chocolate enough to satisfy but not so sweet you feel like you gotta have more. The whole wheat makes it a little grainy tasting, but I suspect whole wheat pastry flour would preform better in this case. Whole wheat pastry flour is just as nutritious, but simply ground from red wheat grains.

Next we moved onto the main meal of the day- veggie lasagna. I got very excited because our local produce market started carrying a no boil whole wheat lasagna, and I had a surplus of cottage cheese to use. ( You can subsitute cottage cheese for ricotta cheese if you drain the liquid and run it in the food processor with your egg for the binding). So I bought eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, fennel, mozzarella and was ready to have a good ole time building a lasagna. A complex lasagna is like an arts and craft project done with colored sand and stones in a bottle- you just go with the look of the work as it is being created to know when it needs more or has enough. I sat down to work, and then disaster struck. I opened the cottage cheese to find it had passed into the great beyond. Green mold, pink liquid- a variable science project in a container. I pitched it and started wracking my brains for a substitute. Yes, just mozzarella would give it the cheese, but not the same creamy feel. I found another cottage cheese container, but this had a mere 1/2 cup remaining. I kept bumping into containers of hummus and then it struck me- if hummus and cheese work so well or a flat bread pizza, why not lasagna ?

And so the Hummus Lasagna was born. The recipe was actually more of a technique- first place a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a pan, a layer of noodles and then spread with a layer of hummus ( I used both red pepper hummus and avocado hummus), then veggies, then the small bit of cottage cheese, then mozzerella, then sauce and keep repeating till you run out of room or ingredients. Make the final layer sauce, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hrs.
The verdict ? Hummus ROCKS in lasagna, but the no boil whole wheat lasagna noodles are "funky". Next time I will take the hit and use plain no boil noodles. We really enjoy whole wheat pasta here, so I was surprised that this variation did not fly. We tried using zuchini or eggplant for noodles, but the result was way too wet. However, hummus is a terrific addition to a lasagna !

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fast food breakfast

Sunday seems to be the busiest morning of the week around here ! Hubby is a church cantor ( soloist and song leader) with one congregation and singer/bass player for a second, so Sunday is another work day in a sense without the amenities that an office job can offer. When you have to start singing at 8 am( not counting warm ups or rehersal) and continue to sing till 1 pm , it's a vocation done out of love. If you are trying to lose weight and said environment only offers your standard coffee and doughnut kind of fellowship gathering fare, you best make sure you are satiated before you enter. So this means a hearty breakfast that can be ready by 6 am. I have tried crocpot oats , flax cereal, cottage cheese and cold cereal, muffins and so on- all of which work well , but have disadvantages. This morning I tried something different, which happens to be something I rank as a champagne of grains- steel cut oats done fast !

First a word about steel cut oats. They are not the same as rolled oats,. When an oat grain is rolled, it becomes a flake. When an oat grain is cut with steel blades, it looks like a broken kernel of rice. It is better for you due to the fact that more of the grain ( germ, bran hull and such) stays attached. A 1/4 cup of dry steel cut oats provides 150 calories, 2 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 0 grams sugar. Great stuff for your body ! 10,000 Scots Irish cannot be wrong - oats gave the ancient Celts the strength to not only battle but run around in nothing but kilts in a cold , damp climate ! Problem is, they take a LONG time to cook on the stove ! Mix oats and water, bring to a bpoil and simmer 30-40 minutes . No go ! They work in a crockpot, but become crusty around the edges. So what is the answer ? Enter overnight steel cut oats !!!!
A bowl of the beauties, waiting for toppings of choice

To make them is an absolute no brainer . In a pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Then turn off the heat, add 1 cup of steel cut oats, cover and let it set overnight. In the morning, simply heat and eat. Creamy, robust, soft but munchy texture- oatmeal bliss ! Add a little brown sugar or chocolate chips or dried fruit or cream or........

So fast . So easy. So hearty. This is definitely a breakfast that will be repeated !

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weigh in

Another Saturday, another weigh in . It was a good week all around.

Me- DOWN 1.4
Hubby - DOWN 0.4
Son DOWN 0.6

Not only am I down as far as the scale, but I was paid a visit by that "monthly aunt". This makes the 1.4 loss even better, as we gals have a tendancy to retain water weight during that time. I am in that time of life where things are very, very unpredictable . For me for much of my life this has always been so due to PCOS. One interesting thing about PCOS is that it makes you rather mixed up hormonally and metabolicly, where you put on weight very easy. That weight then reaches a point where the body "reads" the excess fat as a kind of estrogen, and literally has a party with it. Anything that estrogen builds up in a normal person does so in triplicate it seems and cycles can become VERY heavy, breast tissue VERY tender and a lot more. In short, a peri0od becomes like a whole sentence. A Life Sentence at that !

All of this is leading me to believe even more that the absolute thing I need to focus on is a high intake of the right kinds of fats and fiber. Research I have been doing has tended to agree with my suspicions. Here are a few points that I came across recently:

"There is evidence to suggest that dietary fiber may play
an important role in estrogen metabolism and may be an important
determinant of circulating estrogen levels in the body."

"High fiber diets can reverse estrogen dominance in the body "( leading
to heavy periods, breast cancer, ovarian cycsts, fibroids as well
as migranes,fibrocystic breast disease and menstrual irregularities)

"While much research has focused on the link between fiber and gastrointestinal health,
studies also show that dietary fiber may protect against breast cancer, according to
David P. Rose, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., chief of the division of nutrition and endocrinology
for the American Health Foundation in Valhalla, New York. High intakes of fiber have been shown
to reduce estrogen levels in the blood, he says. That’s important because high levels of estrogen
are associated with increased breast cancer risk.

Fiber may reduce estrogen by binding with it in the intestine before carrying it out of the body
in the stool. Fiber may also help prevent the reabsorption of estrogen in the blood. "

Combining this knowledge with other research on fats, I say bring on another week of beans, oatmeal, barley, avacados, olives, coconut oil and nuts !!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ah, avacados !

I was searching yesterday to find some new recipes that were high in fiber, high in healthy fats and made with real ingredients- things that your grandparents would have known about, available in a normal supermarket and affordable ( all of the above are important to me for a sustainable lifestyle change). I started searching with beans as the main search critera, and found some really interesting ideas. One of them happened to include ingredients I already had on hand

Avocado Hummus

2 cups approximately

1 (14 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, pit removed, peeled and sliced
5 tablespoons sesame tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, juice of (or more to taste)
4-5 garlic cloves (pressed or minced)
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (I used Sea Salt Seasoning)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper or ground mixed peppercorns
3/4 cup water (can use less to get the 'right' consistency)

Peel and cut avocado, removing the pit.
Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
Serve with warm pita wedges, pita chips, or vegetable crudites.

Result is a really tasty hummus that will work well as a sandwich filling, dip, pizza addition and so much more. Avocados are a great healthy addition to a diet. Did you know that one cup has 240 calories and 10 grams of fiber ? It contains about 30 grams of fat BUT 20 of those grams are monosaturated, heart healthy fats. Our bodies NEED these kinds of fats for proper health. Avocados can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and even help rid us of bad breath. They can also help improve eyesight and relive morning sickness. In some places in the world they are amongst the first solid foods given to babies because of their high fat, B, C and E vitamins. Yay for those alligator pears !!!!

I also came across a recipe for chocolate chip cookies using oatmeal, white bean puree and dark chocolate chunks. Sounds yummy, but I am a little hesitant to try these yet. The black bean brownies have become a highly requested and desired snack item. I fear what chocolate chip cookies might do !

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fun at the Goodwill

I love it when life gets in a turmoil. Well, not turmoil , but at least interesting.

Due to an influence of some very strange dreams, TV commercials and the knowledge that I am not getting any younger , I began to seriously question the whole moving process right at this moment, and decided it would be best to postpone for a little while longer and shoot for a house. Home ownership is something we have never done, one of the most greatly contested factors of our relationship, but .... ! However , things still need to get seriously paired down here, so it was off to Goodwill with a load of boxes that will find new homes with some lucky person. And of course if you drop off, it's always fun to go inside and look around .

Once in there I found an air pop popcorn maker - something I have been looking for . When I did my last weight loss attempt I would have a big bowl of air popped popcorn every night for a snack.It helped to keep me VERY regular, which was one big factor in the weight loss and improvement of overall health. We literally wore the unit out and the the stores in our area stopped carrying them. I need to pick up some popcorn this weekend and then fire this baby up !
I am not certain why popcorn was so helpful to me them. It's perhaps the fiber content, but the fiber content of popcorn is perhaps one of the most controversial things in the food world ! Some sources list it as 1 gram per cup( slightly better than lettuce) , but others will say it is a lot greater.

Fiber content can be really surprising in foods. Did you know that in some, such as broccoli and apricots, to cooking process actually increases the fiber ? It's true. It has something to do with the chemical reaction ( caused by heat) that makes the fiber more "bio-available". I think the same may be true with popcorn. All I know is that if I eat it air popped, it is my friend. Black beans to a certain extent, but n0ot quite the same as good ole popcorn.

I also ventured back to the section where they sell the larger items and I found two pieces of inteeresting fitness equipment. One was an old Nordic track fitness walker , which looked like it was in need of some work on the pulley wheels. I have to admit , you do not often see Nordic Track equipment in the thrift stores. I think it might be a testament to how well it works, or how much the owners love them. I passed on it because it looked a little intimidating. Second was a thigh something that reminded me of something I find in my gynocologists office,but with the stirrups sideways. I stared at it and could not figure out what exactly when where and why, so I passed. To be honest, I cannot fathom how one operates one of those "squirreliptical" things either. From what I see it looks like you get on and sort of walk , but how in the heck do you stop them, and what if your stride length is different from the 10 billion other souls on the planet ? In either case, I decided to pass on these two items. I am sticking with my Wii for now. That operates at a level I can understand because it offers me helpful instructions whenever I mess up .

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fiber and fat

It has been a week of pre moving preparations so far. On Sunday we found what we belive will be our future home, so packing is becoming a reality and that means determining what is worth moving and what we have outgrown. It is amazing what kind of stuff can accumulate in a home in a short time that gets forgotten . It's best to part with it before packing, so it makes for a good round of deep cleaning, which means a lot of lifting and stretching and bending-oh my ! Add this to my daily 30 minutes of rowing , hula hoop attempts and pilates and it makes me feel like I may actually survive moving boxes and furniture when the actual move happens.

Diet wise I am following my instincts, or rather something that has been going through my head. It's a totally radical thought , but what if the proper course for MY body is one of focusing on fiber and healthy fats ? By healthy fat I mean ones that nature has created and not a complicated laboratory process - olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil, the fats in eggs , avacados , nuts and even meat. Include in that mix butter instead of margarine. The cholesterol people , who by the way really do not understand what cholesterol actually does in the body, will gasp in horror. Butter ??? Coconut oil ??? You bet. Did you know that a low cholesterol reading can be a sign of cancer ? Did you know that cholesterol is necessary to help various nutrients move within our bodies ? In short, did you know cholesterol actually has good and useful functions in our bodies ? And fiber- people know it is good for some reason, but do you know why ? It keeps your digestive tract regular for one thing, but what does that mean exactly ? Would you be surprised to learn that about 70 percent of the functions of your immune system happen in your digestive tract ? Would you be surprised to learn that a high fiber diet can help to prevent breast and ovarian cancers ? ( it happens by providing a proper environment for excessive estrogen to be pulled from the body and flushed away). Did you know that it can also help with arthritic conditions by aiding in the removal of inflamitory substances in the body ? It's true. This and so much more. Did you also know that a low fat diet will make you dangerously deficient in omega fatty acids, which are necessary for proper nerve function, anti inflamitory functions and even the health of your veins and arteries ? Would it surprise you to learn that low fat diets are one of the biggest factors behind Vitamin D deficiency , which can lead to osteoporosis, skin cancers, colds and a lot more ? It's all true. So to me , the answer seems to lie in a diet rich in fiber, healthy fats and simple ingredients.

Following that idea, here is what a typical day eating is looking like

Breakfast- 2 high fiber muffins( oat bran , blueberry whole wheat or bran), 2 hardboiled eggs or 1/2 cup of cottage cheese or yogert, coffee

Lunch - High fiber wrap with hummus, cheese and olives( a pizza ) , raw veggies

Dinner- meat of some form, side veggie, whole wheat pasta or barley or brown rice and salad( right now baby spinach with walnuts and a lite poppy seed dressing is the salad of choice)

Snacks- apple , nonfat yogert or black bean brownies

We will see what it does for weight loss. Meanwhile I am noticing a lot less joint pain and finding that my digestive system seems to be applauding this way of eating. We shall see.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Baby spinach with sliced mushrooms, walnuts and lite poppy seed dressing...Mmmm Mmm good !

Monday, January 18, 2010

How to avoid eating at a party

Yesterday was the last hurrah of Christmas for us; getting together with my in- laws. My hubby is the oldest of 6 , and many of the sibs have now young adult children, second marriages, work schedules and a whole lot of juggling to do in order to get together. Things have been complicated recently by my MIL moving to a nursing home due to Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimers. For her comfort, the gathering was held at the nursing home- a first in what I am assuming will be a long line of similar gatherings.

One thing that I have not shared on this blog is that I am an Empathic, and places like nursing homes, hospitals, battle scenes, crime scenes and places of high emotion are VERY problematic for me. Same is true with intense religious services ( some of those have been so intense I have had to leave the building). It is something I have dealt with all my life, and I usually avoid such places at all costs or adopt different coping skills when I must enter them. It is never very comfortable for me. However, entering into them brings about a complete bonus for weight loss. For me, I have learned that eating or drinking anything while in those places or situations only makes things a lot worse. I cannot explain the how and why, but then again I don't think it is nessisary for this blog. Leave it to say for some things it can be a bonus.

I knew it was going to be a squiggy time for me, but I also knew that I really wanted to see my inlaws. I have been very concerned about my father in law since mom went in the home, and some things cannot be understood with words. You just have to be there. So I bucked it up, did what I had to , and went. Lots of very good food was present , but I could not eat any of it due to my "gift". I worried that I might have to make up some excuse why i would not eat, but no one seemed to care. ( Not all food situations will require one to eat or hurt someone's feelings).

It was as bad as I suspected it would be, but with a whole other dimension added. When I walked into the room where our gathering was held I was hit by a "wall" of something that was as warm as the sun, as thick as concrete, but something allowed me and my little family to enter within. Once within, you were confronted by a bright glowing energy that both radiated and protected. I saw at once the source- my father in law. There, visible to me in that room was the depth and breath of his love for not only my mother in law, but all that had been formed from their life together. Their children, grandchildren, in-laws, experiences, joys, sorrows and more. It is something I had felt when I was younger with my own father, but I had never "seen" it manifest in this way before in my life. And in seeing it, I instantly recognized that it has an echo in everything created in love- even if just for a moment.Love made manifest on a vibrational level, and I suspect this is what is behind "The Light" that souls cross into after death.

Needless to say when you see that, there is no way your stomach can process food or even understand what food is anymore. The gathering was nice and I kept watching this force manifested until it got to the point where I felt that if I stared at it for one more second I would be absorbed and never be able to return. Then an announcement was made by my father in law as to the course of future financial matters, and it became a very mundane room at last. A good time was had by all, but my stomach was still too unsettled to eat. My MIL loved her lap quilt, a wedding date for this summer was announced by one of the nephews and then i was time to go.

When we got home I could not talk about this. Some things just seem to take a lot longer to put into words than others. It is the next morning and I am still blown away by what I saw.

I think my session of rowing will help to put things in mental order.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy, happy, joy ,joy

What a nice way to start the day ! Thank you to Kristina for the following

And here are the are instructions that come along with this award:

1. Copy the image and display it on your blog.

2. List 10 things that make you happy.

3. Try to do at least one of them today.

4. Pass on the award to 10 bloggers who brighten your day. to narrow it down to 10. So in no particular order....

1.Reading The Onion. Complete and total parody of current events, snippets of life and trends. It always makes me laugh, and often so hard I can't stop for a long time. Always does it.

2. Music. What kind and who really depends on the mood I am in. Sometimes it involves listening, other times I have to create it on my guitar. Music always makes me happy, and I find if I go a couple of days without hearing any music I get really, really bitchy.

3. My husband. He's got a way about him...there is something about his energy that, for a lack of a better word balances mine, and makes me happy.

4. My son. I don't think I ever wanted or loved another person even before they existed as I do him. In those 10 years that we battled infertility I knew him, loved him and knew he would one day come into being- all I had to do was fight to bring him into existence. Now, no matter what is happening in my life , the fact that he was born is proof that miracles do exist and I have been part of this one. The older I get and the more I deal with PCOS, the more I realize what a true miracle he really is, and that makes me smile.

5. Mud and rain. I look forward to times when I can walk in the rain without an umbrella, coat or shoes if at all possible. It feels like The highest power in the universe is cleaning everything away. I am not Christian, but two contemporary christian songs Healing Rain and Flood seem to remind me of just how this feels for some reason. The last one has the bonus of being about rain and mud set to music !

6. Strong Wind. Just sitting in a very stiff wind makes me very happy. It is energy, it is movement, it is refreshing and it is cooling. The last place we lived was on the econd floor of an old Victorian with great cross ventilation. On windy nights I would love to open the windows and just let the wind blast over me , and it would make me giddy with happiness. Added benefit if it was the time of year when the mints were up, the roses were blooming and the last of the lilacs were fading.

7. Learning something new. Be it a word, a fact, a new blog, I love learning something new. I then take it and weigh it against things I have learned in a similar vein and finding my own truth.

8. Healing. Not because I am a healer and this is what I am supposed to do but because it brings balance to a small part of the world. If all of the unbalanced and broken bits of the world were brought into a place of balance and therefor healing, we could accomplish miracles.

9. Handicrafts. Take one thing, manipulate it in some way and you get something totally different, interesting looking and useful. It's kind of like Christmas morning and magic watching it unfold.

10. Little kids making honest mistakes. It always makes me smile because it shows how innocent we all start out in life.

And now my 10 picks

Marissa at Loser for life
Enz at Downward Trends
JC at This and That with JC
Hollie at Hollies Weight Loss Blog
John at John is Fit
Webmom at My life on a Diet
MissFatAss ( her choice, not mine) at Did I Just Eat That Outloud ?
Jen at Jensylvania
Spunkysuzi at Spunkisuzi working towards a healthier me
Kathy at Kath Eats Real Food

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Just dropping in to say..

Busy day here, so just a quickie. Down one pound for the week.

Friday, January 15, 2010

When squash attack

The holidays are over, and a lot of people with serious illness held on because of family , memories and anticipation. Now that we are in January there is less optimism and a general worsening of symptoms. As a result I have been getting a LOT of distance Reiki requests this week. And then Mother Nature adds a major earthquake to the mix, and it has been a very busy week here for this Reiki Master. Add to this homeschool, household duties and exercise goals, it is making me really love quick , easy meals. Muffins and hardboiled eggs for breakfast( both easy to make in bulk for future use), crockpot meals for some dinners and things that I do not have to "babysit" are popular. Such as spaghetti.

Old days meant white pasta, then it moved to whole wheat pasta, but the volume is not always satisfying. 2 oz of dried pasta per person is a small amount, so you wind up having to add sides to bulk things up. A good idea, but when you are pressed for time not so great. On the weekends I do a lot of prep with those veggies that can keep after being cut up( romaine lettuce, carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower) so sides for lunch and salads are easy. In the interest of speed this week ( something told me it would be a factor), I decided to pick up a spaghetti squash to use for one dinner. Spaghetti squash is not like other hard shelled winter squashes. When you cook spaghetti squash it can be shreded into something that looks like vermicelli noodles. Low in calories, high in fiber, low carb- it's a healthy and tasty alternative.

I made spaghetti sauce with sausage last night and decided to make the spaghetti squash- mainly because I would not have to babysit it. During the process , two things came to mind

1. Spaghetti squashes should never grow larger than footballs , or they will not cook evenly. This particular squash, which was almost the size of a newborn, proved to be a problem in cooking. Normally you microwave the squash for 12 minutes, let cool slightly and then process the numminess inside. This squash was now on 30 minutes of microwaving and was still rock hard on one side. I decided to just pull it out, let it sit and allow the steam to do what it would to finish the job. It was so huge, the three of us could not eat the whole thing anyway, so....

2. Healthy food should not injure a cook. I cut the squash open and attempted to scoop out the molten seeds and seed goop. To reward me for my efforts the squash decided to release it's bounty in such a fashion that it was projected directly onto my face. Had I not been wearing my glasses, it could have burned my eye. After the seeds were removed I started scooping out the flesh, and it determined that my kitchen needed decorating. A textured finish on the cabinets, floor and ceiling was the ticket, accomplished with the squash pulp . Yes, this is a healthy food, for after dinner I would get to burn extra calories washing down my kitchen !

It did taste good and I would make this again, but in the future I will never purchase a spaghetti squash larger than a football. And I will consider a pair of safety goggles as part of my kitchen equipment.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Very funny Strega Nona !

It started off with good intentions. I was going to make soup for dinner- take beef bones, onions, carrot , celery and water , toss in a couple bay leaves , apply heat and you get stock. Strain, add new veggies and you get soup. I had beef bones with meat on them ( forget the name of the cut at the moment), celery, a bag of baby carrots that needed to get used, a head of cabbage that had been forgotten and 4 tomatoes that needed using. Half a half cup of barley and somehow it became this:
a six quart crock pot of beef vegetable barley soup that would be for dinner, another dinner, a few lunches and.... thankfully soup made without potatoes or pasta freezes very well. A bowl of this and a corn muffin made with whole wheat flour and stone ground corn meal made for a very tasty, satisfying, economical and fiber loaded meal. However it is proof that I cannot make soup. I turn from a normal cook to Strega Nona's apprentice, who could feed a small neighborhood when she finishes !

Thanks for the comments about my exercise dilemma. It's not something that is impossible, but instead something that requires a little creative thinking. I got in my 30 minutes of rowing ( 3.8 miles, not sure of the calorie burn) , 20 minutes of Pilates, more attempts with the hula hoop and 5 minutes of walking...without any banging from downstairs. I am thinking that if I can perhaps time this to happen when they are out , I can do this until it thaws out enough to let us walk outside. Weather is a big variable , and today we are supposed to get all the way up to the upper 30's, but have a rainy day. Mess out there today, but it's a sure sign that spring will get here soon enough.

Now off to find home in my freezer for that soup....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pizza and predicament

I got very brave yesterday . I made an actual pizza for dinner. Making pizza from scratch ( or any other kind of bread ) is nothing new for this household. I can make them and make them very well. That is the problem- homemade bread products inspire something like a feeding frenzy amongst sharks between the guys. They have been known to devour two extra large pizzas in minutes, without batting an eye.I get slowed down by cutting the pie into slices and trying to keep everyone's plates full. Pizza, in short, is a danger food. However, pizza made at home is affordable, satisfying, can be very nutritious and is a good way to get in some fiber and good fats if made correctly. There should never be a "no " food, if it is a real food - only foods that are made in healthier ways. Here is how I made my crust

Whole wheat pizza crust ( makes a crust for a 9x13 cookie sheet)

1 c baby bottle warm water
1 pkg yeast
1 t splenda( I do not use any other sweeter)
2 t olive oil
2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t salt
2 T vital gluten

In a mixing bowl place the water, splenda and yeast to dissolve. Wait 5 minutes to make sure the yeast froths ( if it does not it means your yeast is dead- discard and start with fresh yeast). Add oil , salt and enough flour to form a non sticky, elastic dough that feels similar to human skin( no oher way I can describe it, and illustrates how they say bread is life). Knead for 10 minutes ( pressing down , pushing the dough away and then rolling it toward you) on a lightly oiled surface ( better than floured surface, which will make your dough dry). Place in an oiled bowl , cover and set in a warm place till double in bulk. Punch down and roll into pizza shape. Top as desired and bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

I topped ours with turkey sausage, mushrooms and mozzerella. These are very simple goto items in our house. Served with a tossed salad, this makes for an easy, economical meal.

On the exercise front, I am challenging myself to get back to that level of walking 45 minutes in he same fashion as I began the last time. Back then when I began walking it was the dead of winter ( I began my weight loss journey on Feb 7, 1989), but got creative. We lived in the second floor of an old Victorian home that had been converted several times. The result was this cool circular pattern that connected the two bedrooms, living room and dining room, so I used it as my indoor track. I began simply walking that loop for 5 minutes, in 3 days increased it to 7, and every 3 days added 2 minutes more till I was walking for 45 minutes. Then the weather got a lot nicer and we walked outside through the neighborhood. Things are different now- different house, different life commitments and different opportunities. I walked 5 minutes in our apartment ( till the people downstairs started banging on the floor because of the creaking ceiling), So I am challenged how to accomplish this. The management frowns on walking the halls, my neighbors complain because of the noise, no money for a treadmill or gym( and could not get to one for lack of transportation most of the day) and there is still a foot of snow and ice on the ground outside here.This one is presenting a bit of a challenge to say the least. Meanwhile I still get in my 30 minutes of rowing, 20 minutes of Pilates and 5 minutes attempting the hoola hoop. Still can't get the hang of that one !

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The "write"way 500th post on this blog ( toss confetti in the air )

I have been writing in some form or another since I was in the 2nd grade. My teacher introduced the concept of poetry to the class with the basic mechanics and told us to go forth and do likewise. I excitedly put pencil to paper and wrote "Pat sat on a bat and that was that." For some reason she thought this was brilliant and showed it to the other teachers. I still have no idea why. About two years later I became a paid writer. I would write "dirty stories" for my fellow classmates and they paid me in candy . If the story mentioned kissing, the price was a pack of bulls-eyes. If it said the character had a honeymoon night, well then the fee was a Baby Ruth ! At 10 yrs old my mind could fathom no dirtier or more erotic words than honeymoon night , and it seems my classmates shared that view. As is the case with most classical, in demand literature, it inspired the reader to think. Sometime after that I began keeping a diary, then a journal and it became a habit that I have kept up most of my life. One day when I am gone, my descendants will get to know me well and either laugh or cringe .

Yesterday I was looking for a tool that I have used in quilting in the past and stumbled upon a gold mine for me .( my filing system is a bit jumbled, to say the least) It was the journal for the time that I had lost 110 pounds and beat infertility. Each body is slightly different , and what works for one body does not work for every body. Finding what works for you body is more valuable than any trainer, motivation, pill or such. So I dropped everything and sat down to read this key to my past . I kept menus, exercise records, feelings, the notes from the therapy I was doing, and some interesting things came to light.

1.Meat was one thing I did not have to weigh or measure. A serving was considered 8 oz but I often ate up to 10 oz with a meal.
2 I had to get two dairy servings per day or my weight loss stalled
3. When things slowed down I ate higher levels of fiber in the form of a big bowl of hot air popped corn at night , added bran flakes to my oatmeal or ate oatbran instead of oatmeal
4. 3 times a week I would have a serving of TCBY in a cup without any toppings ( dairy factor)
5. I ate fish 4 times a week ( can no longer do that because of an allergy)
6. I walked 45 minutes every day and to bust plateaus I added 3 miles on the stationary bike
7. It seemed that the fiber was a bigger factor than the exercise
8 Fat was another important factor , or I would become very constipated.

Granted, I am 20 years older now and in peri-menopause or actual menopause, but it is still my body. I decided to follow the example that worked at that time. Bring on the fiber ! It also echos something that I have been suspecting - my weight has something to do with the way my digestive tract processes food , and it is connected to the endocrine system functions in my body.

This discovery led to a decision to try something I have not made in a long time for dinner- Bean Gravy. Actually turkey and mushrooms in bean gravy over polenta with roast broccoli on the side. To make Bean gravy you need white bean flour, liquid and seasonings. The ratio is basically 1 cup liquid ( water or stock or drippings) to 1 T bean flour. It makes a creamy, dairy free , gluten free high protein sauce. It would have worked well, except I have my flours stored in glass jars, and often forget to label the jars. I have bean flour, tapiocia flour, almond flour and vital gluten stores, all various shades of white. I mistakenly grabbed vital gluten instead of bean flour and the results were......well after seeing them and serving them, it was unanimously decided it was a great night for Subway.

One form of a writing discipline I must cultivate is WRITING LABELS FOR MY JARS STORED !!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Funny fitness

What is that suspiciously bright thing peeking through my window ...could it be the sun ????? By golly, I believe it is ! We have had so many cold, dreary, snowy days here this winter that I was begining to think Mr Sun went on a long vacation ! Still cold ( 16 degrees here as I write) , more snow predicted, but for the moment, some happy rays peeking through the window.

Yesterday afternoon I went to WalMart to pick up some supplies, and was amused at all the "January products" on the shelves. Lot of storage totes, fitness equipment and weight loss products. One in particular, the Perfect Pushup , had me giggling

From what I gather from the box ,it allows you to do a push up and twist your wrists while you push up. First question is how can this be good for your wrists ? If twisting your wrists is the secret to preforming a perfect push up, wouldn't waving like the Queen do the same thing ? Then I looked at it closely and thought that when you get tired of using it for fitness, it would make a darned nifty hamburger patty maker, so it may have some value after all. Sadly I could not find a Shake fit- that one keeps making me wonder just what you are training for, and what inspired the inventor to create it

Yes, fitness can be funny !

I gathered my desired objects, came home and began to work on a new quilt and enjoyed spending time with my husband. He is incredibly supportive, loving, intelligent, handsome and the only person on earth who understands my lines of thinking and can follow them into the dark and muddy places they can lead to. Not only find me in the muck , but know exactly how to pull me out, help me dust myself off and get me back on the horse again. He is not only my soul mate, but the second half of my soul itself. This coming Sunday we will have lived together for 30 years ( yes we were evil children- we lived together before we got married) , and we have been through a lot together, good and bad. We are of different spiritual paths, but we talk very openly about those things that are different and find the similarity between them. For two people whom are deeply spiritual but of separate traditions, this has served us very well through the years. Things felt better by evening.

I tried something new yesterday evening for after dinner. Duncan Hines has a whole grain triple chocolate chunk brownie mix, and I wanted to see how these would fair as black bean brownies. In case you have not heard of these, you take a prepacked mix of brownies( or the equivilant of your own homemade mix), add a can of pureed black beans and nothing else, then bake according to package directions. You don't taste the beans, they taste chocolatey and have a high level of fiber and no fat. My thinking was with the whole grain this might make something close to colon blow, but worth the risk. They were pretty good, and pretty filling- just chocolate and moist enough to satisfy, but not so sweet that you want more and more. Not something for every day, but makes a nice snack treat now and then.

It has also been decided that muffins with a form of protein would be good for breakfasts this week, so it is drag out the oat bran recipes again. Between the brownies and the muffins, I am remembering how much I really miss baking these days. I loved making breads of all kinds ! Quilting and baking and soap making...oh my !

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I am a fluke of the universe, and proud to be so.

Yesterday was not a good day emotionally. Not only did the number on the scale taunt me, but other things were screaming at me as if to say "nya nyanya nya nya". The facial hair is getting heavier once again,leaving me to consider giving up the fight with that and gradually shifting into existance as a bearded lady in the circus. I also observed that the male pattern baldness is increasing to the point that in a week or two I may actually have a crome dome, or what could pass as a bad tonsure. These two features are old friends- some of the other pieces of the PCOS equation. The others that include numerous skin tag growths, skin discoloration and infertility don't seem to be as much of an issue at the moment. However when they all gang up and become good buddies with the insulin resistance ( and resulting inability to lose weight) , they really make one feel special. For the record, in my past I have tired different drug therapies to bring these symptoms into control and for me they do not work. They do not always work for all people. PCOS has no cure and it's cause is not known, yet something like 10 percent of all women deal with it, and the ridicule it often brings.

So I dusted myself off, was in an ugly mood and went grocery shopping. I stuck to my lists, I focused on making nessisary healthy substitutions where required ( I really wondered if I had enough veggies on the list for the week plan, so I added more cabbage, broccoli and romain lettuce just in case) , and my husband was being very sympathetic to my black mood. He is wonderful in that way- my best cheerleader and supporter). We finished the first store and I was begining to feel sort of upbeat. We spent less than expected and I found some good finds. And then the universe decided to send me a message that I am not normal, no matter what I do. One of the employees of the store, a girl who is either Aspergers or some other developmental delay was gathering carts. Normally she cleans the restroom and I have smiled at her and said hello a few times. She recognized us , came up to collect our cart and say hello, and then out of the clear blue she asks me "is that a birth mark or did you get hit in the head ?"

I have a large Port Wine birthmark above my right eye. Through my whole life it has been my distinguishing feature, and there are times I am really reminded of it- usually anytime I attempt to wear make up without serious cover up applied first. When I was younger my parents consulted a plastic surgeon to have it removed, and they were told that because of it's location it was too risky- I could lose sight in my right eye if it was done. As an adult, when they came out with laser technology I investigated and the answer was the same, so I decided it was not worth it. Normally it does not bother me ( instead the reactions kind of amuse me) bt there are those days when it feels like weight loss is not important because even if I was the most normal of normal weight and proportions, I would still have this mark and be thought of as different. This day became one of those. I answered her questions and we drove away, but I was left feeling like I am either some kind of target landing or satellites from space or another type of fluke of the universe. That song from National Lampoon popped in my head and I laughed.

We got home , put away groceries, cut up veggies and I found myself thinking about a line from the movie "Julia and Julie" that goes something like no matter what kind of day I have had I come home and put flour with eggs and butter and it gets thick. What a comfort ! With me I am finding that no matter what happens in the world if I put two unrelated pieces of fabric together , cut and add thread, something new and interesting co mes out of it.I sat down to start to play with fabric in an attempt to work on a baby shower gift, and I created 5 baby boy bibs and the pieces to make an applique baby quilt. Scales , calories, exercise and appearance for me have gotten pulled into some kind of vortex that I am not meant to understand for some reason at the moment for my body, but fabric makes sense. When we went to bed I began considering parting with some important but outgrown facets of my life to make room for fabric arts. Not only would it provide gifts, but I could conribute to various charitable organizations once again. The last thing I did in that area was to make burial gowns for premature babies who did not make it. Sounds like gruesome work, but with my stillbirth and miscarriages it was very cathartic.

The miscarriages could have been attributed to the PCOS- having this makes miscarriage a great likelihood. Not only do you struggle to conccive, but you struggle to keep a pregnancy because of the effects PCOS has on the endocrine system. Nothing in your body operates as normal and the do not know why. Hairy, fat, infertile, blotchy , acne ridden and weird growths. And yet, if you are lucky, the experience can lead you to learn great compassion for others who suffer. It's something like The Fisher King- the wounded healer. In order to get to the deeper levels of healing you must first learn what it is like to be sick. It led me to herbs and nutritional medicine, and from there it led me to Reiki. Cursed to have the ability to heal everyone but yourself. Yet I am begining to belive that it may be leading me to healing through fabric. Sometimes our waking intentions get in the way of the goals of our higher selves, and then it steps in to force us back to the path we are meant to be on. Perhaps that is true here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I want to know

I would love to know , definitively, HOW long a body will gain from muscle development before it turns around to weight loss. Really, truly, factually and honestly. I have been exercising, following my food plan ( the same one as the guys but they are not exercising) and they are losing. I have gained for 3 weeks in a row

Me- UP 1.8
Hubby- DOWN 1.0
Son - DOWN 3.5

In short, in 3 weeks of exercise I have GAINED 3.8 pounds. I do not consider this to be progress in the least.

Friday, January 8, 2010

One down, many more to go

Happiness is finishing a craft project ! I finished the lap quilt yesterday, and I am very pleased with the results. It measures 36 by 36 , and the size seems to be optimal for wheel chair use- keeps the legs warm but does not need to be folded over or is so long as to get caught in the wheels. I designed this to include two of my mother in law's collectible things, but never realized how optimistic the over all look of the quilt would be. I am very pleased with the outcome, and now I am beginning to think of my next project. That one is going to be a baby quilt for one of my nieces.

It is snowing here again and last night spaghetti was planned for dinner. Funny how this go to quick easy meal has changed so much since we began weight loss. Before it would be some kind of meat, a jar of sauce and a pound bag of pasta- most of the pasta eaten by my son. It was always plain white pasta because any other texture would cause a sensory melt down. Now it is still some kind of meat and a jar of sauce, but 6 ounces of whole wheat pasta and something to stretch the pasta with. This gets interesting. Last night I decided to try sauteed onions and mushrooms ( take 1 T olive oil, slice up a bunch of mushrooms and onions, cover and steam/saute, then mix with cooked pasta and cover with sauce). It was very tasty and VERY filling. It is surprising how much "nothing" vegetables will fill you up.

Tomorrow is weigh in and I am really hoping the muscle mass gain has turned around ! I stopped weighing myself after Tuesday morning - it was making me crazy to watch the numbers creep up. At that point it said I had gained 3.4 pounds from Saturday, so we shall see.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Save room for desert !

It's Thursday of the first week back to the routine of life, and things are going well. This is a bit of a sigh of relief, as two weeks ago Bob looked at me a bit perplexed, asking me how I was going to be able to get in everything I already do plus work on this quilt project. In usual fashion I shook my head and said don't worry , I will do it. However , the truth was I was a little concerned. There are days that just getting a shower in is still a trick ! Homeschooling takes time, exercise takes time, my reiki work takes time, my own studying takes time and household management takes time , and no matter how loudly I plead, there are only 24 hours in every day and one of me.

Yesterday afternoon I moved to the point of binding the quilt, and I was tickled with myself. The house was clean, I had gotten in a solid 45 minutes of exercise, a good school day had been accomplished and dinner was cooking in the crock pot- along with planing for the next weeks meals, shopping and school taken care of. How did I do it ? The one that really made me wonder about was the exercise. For 3 weeks now I have been being very good in this department, thanks to the aquisition of two Wii games I really love. It is said that half of the battle with exercise is finding something you love. I think the other half is finding time to do it ! What was different now about how I was operating ?

Then I realized the reason was sitting in my hands, with pins and needles coming out of it. As much as I love every aspect of my life, I love creating things more. And as much as I love creating, putting them into a fabric medium is a passion. I love making crafts, quilts and even doing simple garment repairs. Having this quilt project with a deadline meant I not only had to carve out time for this , but I wanted to . I also had to carve out time for all the other things, so it suddenly made me more efficient. I wake up, take care of some "buisness"( planing, bloging, email, study), do some reiki work, get in my exercise, get school going and while Nick works on self directed things I clean house. Then after school is done, I am free to work my passion in fabric till dinner, and then while watching TV in the evenings. It flows for me ! Knowing this, I think I would be wise to come up with a few other projects to do once this quilt is finished, which should be later today. Pictures tomorrow.

I write about this not because I am an expert at time management, but rather because I think one of the hurdles is to find the right reward or carrot for the journey. We all know what we need to do and we all know the reasons why we do not do it. Perhaps if we think in different terms, saving the thing we love the most for the thing we do last , it can make is all a little more efficient . It can help us to go that extra mile with the process and leave us with results that will make us proud. Each of us leads a life that is like a wonderful buffet of choices, and like a buffet they need a bit of management. If we dive right into the fun deserts, we get stuffed with things that appeal to our taste buds but offer little nutrition. If we ate nothing but tossed salad we would be healthier, but also would feel very deprived and bored. Too much of the meat entrees will make us feel really satiated but give us heart burn from the seasonings. The trick is to select sensible portions from each group and allow ourselves a desert at the end for fun. Quilts, it seems, may be the best desert for me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

So THAT'S what I need !

Thanks to watching The Biggest Loser last night, I think I finally figures out what I am doing wrong with weight loss. Two things actually. And it occurred to me that there are probably a lot of us who are struggling that are doing the same wrong things. So in the interest of the betterment of mankind, I will share. Ready ?

1. My scale does not make beeping sounds while it weighs. This part seems critical. Unless the scale beeps it does not know if it should stop on those bigger or smaller numbers, and therfore gets stuck. I think this Saturday I should have the guys either beep, hum or whistle to our scale while we weigh in. It will help.

2. I do not own a colored sports bra. It seems to be an important bit of equipment in the process. Notice the eliminated team last night were men, and neither of which wore a sports bra. Note to self- buy a florescent yellow one.

Needless to say I watched The Biggest Loser last night. I found myself cheering when I learned that the heaviest contestant to date was not only from my home town of Chicago, but an Italian American like my husband and son. Ah, the power of pasta and pizzas !!!!

I worked on my quilt as I watched and found myself talking back to the screen with some of the contestants. (Note- I have been overweight all my life, and not only have had several boyfriends but married . Your weight is NOT what is keeping you from meeting someone. Your belief in yourself is). I also made sarcastic comments about the opening challenge ( contestants will race on indoor stationary bikes because after last seasons fiasco we are afraid of potential lawsuits and want to save near death experiences for later in the season).

I am asking myself if you sit and heckle The Biggest Loser , is this a sign of weight loss burn out ???

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sure. Make me nervous !

One word can sum up yesterday - busy !

Between back to school and my reiki work it felt like someone placed the day in a blender and turned it on high ! Seems that back to routines do that to us all. However, I managed to get in 45 minutes of exercise (rowing, Pilates and walking) , and stayed true to my food plan during it all. Breakfast was a yogert bluberry smoothie( plain nonfat yogert, frozen blueberries and a scoop of whey powder). A blue monster, made at my son's request. Lunch was a flat bread pizza with cut veggies ( I remebered to snap a picture this time)

Dinner was turkey basil meat loaf , roast root veggies and a salad of baby greens. It seems the muscle gain affect is still going on and it is making me more than a little nervous. I have been stepping on the scale every morning in an attempt to manage things, and so far I am UP 3.4 pounds from Saturday, which was up 1.2 from last week. Am I really THAT much of a wimp ??? When is it going to hit the point of turn around ???

Which makes me think about one of the reasons I really dislike The Biggest Loser and other weight loss shows. What if ou have a condition that, in spite of your very best efforts, will not allow you to lose weight ? They do indeed exist ( kidney malfunctions, Insulin resistance, different cortizol medications and so forth). And what if you are not "miserable because I am fat" ??? What if you are perfectly content with who you are and what you are, but have determined your physical self would preform at a more optimum capacity if you weighed a little less ( because your insurance company is threatening to raise your rates or your Doctor determines everything that you experience from the shattered knee in the car accident to H1N1 is a direct result of your weight)??? What service does it do ANYONE to have a program that screams "Happiness only comes through weight loss that is archived through a lifestyle that compromises everything else in your life ". Why ? Because we all still want something to blame . Very few of us have come to realize that no matter where you go or what you do, you bring you with you. External things are meaningless unless there is a solid internal make up. If you disbelieve in yourself at 200 pounds, you will still disbelieve in yourself at 120 if you do not work on the root cause. Now if Biggest Loser would spend a lot more time on that process and a lot less time on showcasing Jillian being verbally abusive and how the players figure the best way to point fingers at fellow cast members, I think it could do some real and lasting good !

In the meantime, I will continue to do what I am doing and watch the scale in amusement and fear.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Salad and hoops and cold...Oh My !!!

Woke up yesterday to absolutely bone chilling cold in the apartment. We have heat and it is working, but when the tempurature drops down to below zero and the wind hits from the north, this normally toasty apartment becomes a refrigerator. I was so cold my bones hurt ! So we worked as a team to take emergency steps to heat up the house ( hang blankets on the wall, fill crockpots with water and run them on high and take hot showers) , and soon it became bearable and I could move. It worked hard all day and acchived the grand tempirature of 3 degrees by later in the day. Today proves to be a heat wave- it is a whopping 8 degrees at 7 am so far !

So what is the logical thing to do on such a cold day ? Why go out shopping and for a salad lunch of course ! Desire would have had me stay home and quilt in the warm, but there were things that were needed, and Nick was really stir crazy, so it's out in the cold we go. Strangely enough, I was really craving a good salad, so we went to Sweet Tomatoes. They always have great offerings!

romaine, broccoli, butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, raw beets, sunflower seeds, red onions, red cabbage, peas , mushrooms wih a fat free french dressing

classic spinach salad, citrus arugula whole wheat pasta salad, Asian noodle salad with whole wheat pasta and Chicken Wonton Salad. All very yummy !

Then we headed off to WalMart to buy the things we were questing after. And amongst the goodies was my hula hoop and a new sewing machine. I bought a Singer Pixie because a. it looks like it will do everything I require out of a machine and b. it is very affordable. I have sewn many items for over 25 years and NEVER had I needed, wanted or used 99 percent of the fancy stitch capability of most modern sewing machines. Straight stitch, zig zag stitch, button hole stitch and automatic bobbin feed is all you really ever need to do anything under the sun. The more stitches it is capable of, the more prone to break down and wiggy stitching it is. Don't need it !

Once back home I warmed up by working more on my quilt, which is getting close to being done, and then played with my hula hoop. As a kid I never could do them , but with the Wii Fit I was able to do it and figure out the movement, so hopefully I could do it now. Well, guess again ! I tried and tried and tried, but I cannot get the silly thing to work around my hips ! I can get the motion with my neck...almost... but not the hips ! I am not sure what I am doing wrong, but I will keep trying. As Bob pointed out , even if I cannot get the thing to work I will be getting a lot of exercise from the constand bending down to pick the darned thing up !

It is back to school for us today, and my goal is to do school, get the housework done, get in exercise and get more done on the quilt . All that movement will help me to keep warm !

Saturday, January 2, 2010

That Saturday Thing

First the good- one of you asked for the recipe for the pizza we made on New Year Eve. It is very easy, very healthy and very tasty

Wrap Pizza ( 260 calories, depending on brands used)

1 La Tortilla high fiber tortilla( or comparable brand)
2 T hummus ( I use red pepper hummus or plain)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
2 large mushrooms, sliced

optional toppings - 1 T bacon pits, cooked sausage, leftover turkey or chicken ( calories will go up according)

Place tortilla on a cookie sheet, spread with hummus, sliced mushrooms and cheese. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes( till cheese is melted and the tortilla is the level of crisp you want). We serve these with either a tossed salad or raw veggies

Now on to the not so good- weigh in. Monitoring what I eat, doing 30 minutes of rowing and 20 minutes of Pilates 20 minutes 6 times this week, and the results are

Me- UP 1.2 lbs ( I seem to do better not exercising)
Hubby - DOWN 3.0 lbs
Son ( who also exercised with me) - UP 1.6

Seriously I am thinking the gain is muscle mass gain . I intend to do the same pattern this week, because I honestly believe it is muscle mass gain, and if I am right it should turn around this coming week as the muscle starts to increase the metabolism. At least hubby lost- and it is always nice when one of us is in a disgustingly chipper mood because of the scale.

Cold here today, and it was cold last night as well. I went to sleep and had strange dreams about making quilts for Somalia ( would they need them ?) and going to a pot luck where a woman baked a cake that looked like a beehive hair style and discovering that the cake included actual human hair. Gross, but I winder what my brain was trying to tell me in that dream. I don't eat cake, crave cake, think about hair or any such thing. Bizzare !

Plans for today's eats are oatmeal for breakfast, minestrone soup and salad for lunch and leftover ham baked with cauliflower and cheese. Plans are for shopping, chopping and more applique work on the quilt, another session of rowing and pilates. Have a good one !

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy get the drill !

Sorry for the late post, but I have been having fun with a non weight loss related project today !
Yesterday I went to the shrine of creativity(aka Hobby Lobby) to buy the fabric for the lap quilt I am making. Got it home, cut out the pieces, began to work the appliques , only to discover that MY SEWING MACHINE IS DEAD ! ( que the sound of taps in the distance...) It lived a long and productive life for 25 years. In that time it had made 55 jumpers, 13 full sized quilts, 20 wall quilts, about 500 soft toys, 2 bridal gowns, hundreds of pairs of toddler pants, 4 kilts, 2 coats, a zillion Christmas ornaments, place mats, napkins, washable moon rags and lots more. It actually died about 2 years ago , but I forgot about it ( When weight loss began, crafting ended it seems). The machine will be replaced, but in the mean time I have to have this quilt ready by the 17th of January. No machine + a time deadline means Diane Hand Sews.

At first I cringed and panicked. Then I sat down to begin to stitch, and I remembered that I actually LOVE hand sewing. So for much of las night and today I have been sewing, taking some breaks to exercise and cook ( tortilla pizzas last night, eggs and turkey bacon this morning and ham with broccoli and sweet potatoes tonight), and sewing some more. And I am LOVING what is being created. Yes, pictures will follow once I get this done.

Tomorrow morning is weigh in. I am curious to see what a week of 20 minutes of Pilates and 30 minutes of rowing 6 x this week will result in.