Help! I’m drowning in Food Facts!

I just love the library.  My mother would have never in a million years thought I would be saying those words, but I do.  This is coming from a girl who always tried to find the movie or the Cliff Notes of any book that was assigned in high school.  I can vividly remember from back in the 80’s laying on the couch with my head in my mother’s lap while she read to me.  Can you believe she did that for me?    She did this without judgment or criticism.    No lectures on me using my time more wisely, just out of love.  I also remember watching A Christmas Carol late at night with my copy of the book open right in front of me.  “Marley was dead:  to begin with.”  The first line of the book and the first words from the screen.  The version I was watching had to be word for word I reasoned.  It’s a wonder I made it through English at all! 

But the reason I love my library so much is that they have this awesome website and you can request books.  I don’t ever worry if there is a long waiting list.  I know my number will come up and I’ll have whatever title I’m interested in very quickly.  It is such a joy when I get the email saying my requested book is now available and on hold for me.  They even have audio books that you can download for free!  Sometimes I like to have my own copy of a book but since I don’t tend to re-read very often, I like the frugalness of checking them out. 

My number came up this week and 3 books that I had requested all became available at the same time.  In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan the audio version was first.  Second came, Food Rules also by Michael Pollan.  And lastly, Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. 

I am so very happy that In Defense of Food came to me in the audio version.  If it hadn’t, I’m not sure I could have gotten past the first chapter.  Michael Pollan goes on and on in a very technical way about the Western Diet (high intakes of red meat, sugary desserts, high-fat foods, and refined grains) and all the chronic illnesses that are caused by it.  I’m only on the 4th cd out of the 5 but what I am taking away from this book is that I have been born and am living in the worst nutritional time in history.  No more is a person’s diet dictated by culture or heritage.  I’m sure I eat nothing like my mother let alone my grandmother. 

From my very earliest memories I was using Sweet-n-Low, drinking Tab and Fresca, and consuming every low-fat, no-fat item that the food marketers were directing me to.  This makes me very sad.  I remember swearing by Susan Powter’s claim that it was the fat that was making us fat!  Then I remember embracing Dr. Atkins and his claim that the carbs were the enemy.  I even bought and used the ketosis sticks.  Did you? 

Even now I’ve gone from Vegetarian to Flexitarian and now back to Vegetarian.  Why does my diet have to be so complicated?  Why in the world am I spending as much time thinking about it as I do? 

The next book from Michael Pollan was Food Rules and you can read it in one sitting.  I recommend Food Rules wholeheartedly.  No need to get In Defense of Food unless you just love all the technical stuff.  Food Rules gives you all the main points made in In Defense of Food.  Some of the rules that I like the most are as follows: 

Rule number 2:  “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”  When I read this toLydia she immediately commented that meant tofu was definitely out.  I wonder what Michael Pollan would say to that? 

Rule number 13:  “Eat only foods that will eventually rot.”  Ever find a French fry under the seat in your car?  Looked pretty much exactly they way it did when it first fell there I bet. 

Rule number 20:  “It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.” 

Rule number 37:  “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.” 

Rule number 44:  “Pay more, eat less.”  I can give you an awesome example of this one.  I made a pot of soup out of Eat to Live that I will review later and it cost me over $20.  It called for leeks, raw cashews, and carrot juice among many other ingredients.  Click her for the complete recipe.  The only leeks I could find were organic and the two cost me over $5.  The raw cashews were $5.26 and the carrot juice was $5.49.  I did only use 1/3 of the bottle of carrot juice but wowzer, I was up to over $15 at that point.  I estimated the entire pot of soup to cost around $25 and we got 6 servings out of it.  That will never make the Dinner on a Dime show!  It was very good though.  Even Mason loved it! 

And my very favorite rule of all….   Rule number 64:  “Break the rules once in a while.”  After a week of 3 nutrition books, I’m about to return to being a Flexitarian.  I will probably add back wild salmon or other fish and maybe some other animals if they are truly organically fed and humanely treated.  I’m also going to learn to be more like the French as Michael Pollan reports.  When I think of a chocolate cake, I’m going to think celebration instead of guilt.  After all, as Oscar Wilde says, “Everything in moderation, even moderation.”

The last book I read, or rather skimmed was Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  This one, like In Defense of Food, is very technical and long.  I skipped over most of it and got right to the diet he recommends and the recipes.  Dr. Fuhrman embraces a plant based diet way more than Michael Pollan but they are very similar in many ways.  The perpetual dieter in me almost wants to take his 6 week challenge and take out ALL animal products from my diet.  He claims that you can lose 20 pound or more in the 6 weeks.  Even with this claim, he really is more concerned with health rather than weight loss. 

The basics of the 6 week challenge: 

Unlimited raw veggies and try to eat at least one pound a day 

Unlimited cooked veggies and again, aim for one pound daily 

Unlimited fruits but at least 4 per day 

Limited starchy veggies and grains 

No animal products, no dairy, no processed foods, no caffeine, and no alcohol 

A point that Dr. Fuhrman makes that hit home to me was that in some ways, eating meat is far better for you than being a vegetarian that gorges on rice, breads, and other vegetarian junk foods.  He leans very heavily towards a plant based diet but after the first 6 weeks, some meats may be added back. 

I did finish one more book this week but this post is already way too long.  I’ll review, The Help, next week sometime.  If you haven’t seen the movie, wait.  Read the book first!  If you have seen the movie, don’t wait!  Go get the book.  It’s that good.

Indulge a little, Live a lot

Tonight I dined alone.  Andie and Mason are back in Wilmington.  Ron was working late.  Lydia was spending the night with a friend.  This was my chance to have kale chips, quinoa, and basic grilled tofu.

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Even though I’d love to say that I’ve converted my family to my new way of eating, I cannot at this time.  Ron is the exception.  He’s always been a very healthy eater and will try anything.  Andie is coming around.  In fact, the other day when I stayed with her in Wilmington, she made me sautéed spinach and onions.  She took a whole entire bag of spinach out the fridge mixed it in a pot with some chopped onions she had already cooking up on the stove.  That’s my girl!  Go SPINACH!  She served the spinach and onions with some raw celery stalks, raw carrots, and some hummus.  That was my kind of lunch.  Even Mason loved the hummus.  Lydia is coming around a little as well.  She likes some of my new dinners just not the one I made tonight.

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While I was dining, I watched our little tv in the kitchen and I saw the news about Paula Deen admitting that she has had diabetes for the last 3 years.  They showed her making her famous doughnut burger where she places a hamburger between two glazed donuts and even adds an egg and bacon.  I know of Paula Deen and I have watched a little of her cooking show but I never knew about this doughnut burger.  Funny thing.  I bet I would love it.  You know those Sausage McGriddles at McDonald’s?  You know, where they put the sausage between two pancake sort of things.  Well, I LOVE those.  I haven’t had one in years and I don’t even know if they still offer them but I do remember that the few times I had those, they were quite tasty.

What to think?

What to think of another hugely successful cooking person, The Pioneer Woman and all her unhealthy cooking?  I just love PW and when I look at her family, they all seem very healthy.  She often defends her large amounts of butter with the fact that her family works so hard.

I guess I am just kinda in the middle of all this.  Splurges are fine if they are occasional (or for a good cause).   I think if we don’t allow ourselves some indulgences it will just be a crying shame.

Here was my indulgence tonight:

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That’s just one little apple with some cinnamon sprinkled on it AND…..one glorious large spoonful of White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter.

My dinner was so very simple to make.  All I did was wash and dry the kale.  Then I massaged a little EVOO on the leaves, sprinkled them with salt and parmesan cheese, and baked them for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  The tofu was already cubed so you just sauté it in a pan with EVOO, salt and pepper.  The quinoa is very simple.  Boil 2 cups of water and then add 1 cup of quinoa.  Bring back to a boil and then cover and simmer for 12-14 minutes.

On the running front I ran intervals for about 35 minutes.  I would run for 3 minutes and then walk for 1.5 minutes.  Then run for 4 minutes and walk for 2.  I kept repeating that sequence until I had covered 3 miles.

Goodnight Friends!

The Great Pumpkin

It’s that time of year again folks.  It’s Pumpkin Time!  I went to Trader Joes and stocked up on pumpkin pancake mix, pumpkin muffin mix, pumpkin, and even some pumpkin granola.

Do you all remember the Super Foods book from 2004?  Pumpkin is one of the “14 foods that will change your life.”  Pumpkin lowers the risk of various cancers.  The book recommends that you eat ½ cup of pumpkin on most days.  Some other vegetables that have similar disease fighting properties to that of pumpkin are carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and orange bell peppers.   Fun fact:  Pumpkin is actually a fruit and not a vegetable.

Whenever I’m at Trader Joe’s, I always try to pick up something for Lydia to surprise her with in her lunch box.

Seaweed!  Bet they’ll have a lot of fun with this around the lunch table.

I also got Ron his favorite! Dark Chocolate.  He’s crazy about dark chocolate.  I wish I liked it.  Dark chocolate is supposed to be healthy.  I’m crazy for milk chocolate.  (not healthy)  I might ask him for a square of this bar and since it has caramel, which is my favorite, I might just enjoy it.

Look what else I got! Medjool dates.  Have you tried them with a pecan in the middle yet?  Just like a mini pecan pie in your mouth.  Oh.so.good!  (Thanks Marianna for telling me about these.)

On the running front, I ran 3.43 miles with my friend Tery.  We took it easy since it was my first run in over a week and a half and since she had already done Boot Camp today.  It was great but I’m already feeling it in my heel.

I’m ignoring it.

Goodnight Friends!

Day of Rest….sort of

It’s a very chilly, drab, sort of day here in the heart of Carolina. 

Fred is just lazing around.

Lydia got up very early today and has a full day of band activities ahead of her.  I was up too and I packed her an awesome lunch.  I hope she likes the speacial Goldfish shaped bread that I got for her sandwich. 

I’ve chosen to stay home today.  I’ve been super busy with work and all the traveling I’ve done lately and with running.  I’m feeling super guilty for not volunteering for band today but I just have got to step back a bit.  Next Saturday I’ll be volunteering all.day.long, so hopefully it will all even out in the end.

Today, I needed a day of rest. 

To get my rest day started, I whipped up this “apple pie oatmeal” that I found on   ohsheglows.  Click here for the recipe:  http://ohsheglows.com/2011/09/13/5-favourite-hot-oatmeal-recipes/

It was wonderful!  After my first taste, I added a bit of coconut for some added sweetness to counteract the tartness of the Granny Smith apples.  The walnuts were yummy too.

Now to continue on my day of rest, I’m finishing up about a million loads of laundry, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, and mopping.  I’m also headed to the dump and the recycling station.

Might do a Total Gym workout for like the second time in the over 15 years that Ron has owned it.  Ron will be so shocked!

Happy Saturday Friends!