Monday, March 29, 2010

Interesting lecture

If you have a couple hours....this is an interesting lecture about sugar and obesity. I have only listened to part of it so far. If you don't want to listen to 2 hours of this, you can take the shortened Jackie Warner motto of, "Sugar is the Devil!!!"

Friday, March 26, 2010


I'm better now, but a virus that turned into both a sinus infection and bronchitis put me way out of whack for over a week.

I didn't even remember that I had a blog, let alone post.

But now that it's over I am reminded of a few things....

Being sick makes it hard to focus on things like eating well and exercising. When I started my diet I stated that when my kids were younger and I was getting sick many times a winter I never got in the swing of exercising and being healthy. While that is in the end just another excuse, it was a pretty good one!

Now I try and always exercise, even a little bit, when sick, if for no other reason than to feel like I'm not just a feeling-sorry-for-myself lump for two weeks. The last few years I tend to hold on to my illnesses for a really long time and that can easily become two weeks of dragging myself through the day. My ENT encouraged exercise too, and I think it does help break up the stuffed up sinuses. It's almost impossible to exercise with bronchitis-type's hard enough to breathe without being winded.

It is so easy to find quite valid excuses as to why it's too hard to eat well and exercise, but usually, there is a way to push past the excuses and get it done. It means prioritizing those goals above a lot of other stuff, which can get almost ridiculous (obsessive? yes, maybe). But in the end it does feel good to be in shape.

I'm also having fun with the new Blogger templates!

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Jillian Yoga DVD review

So I don't like yoga, but I was really tired and not in the mood to work out this morning. I got up late and didn't want the kids whining about waiting for me to finish. And I was just tired. I decided to do a short onDemand bit. But I found this new Jillian yoga DVD when clicking through my onDemand options this morning.

I am not sure if I did level 1 or 2, but I think it was 2. I just looked up the reviews on Amazon and tend to agree with much of what I read. Much softer side of Jillian. Even her hair is softer (see image below). I think she had some facial work done - she looks less horsey. But that aside, she was less bombastic and egotistical. Her side-kicks have beautiful lean yoga bodies-and Jillian doesn't condescend to them. And I really liked the swanky new studio!

I liked the quick flow and added reps she puts in there. I still don't think yoga is right for me overall, but this was a nice change. I find I can't do the really hard poses, and there is no cardio to get the heart rate up so what happens is it's not hard enough for me. If I could do those chatteranga push-ups it would be hard, but I end up falling and not exerting myself. I like fast reps of things and will push myself with lots of movements like squats with overhead presses, but somehow I can't force myself to hold static poses. Anyway, I tailored the workout to my own I added in jumping jacks to the slow parts of the sun salutations, I added 5 lb weights to some of the warrior poses, and I added in some plain old cardio moves during the cool down. Jumping jacks are not very yoga-like I know, but I enjoyed myself.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Back to counting

I am returning to some more careful counting and measuring, as my pants are tight and uncomfortable. I don't think I look "fat" but I'm not enjoying feeling my pants pinch my waist at my desk. I tried simply adding in a bit of extra exercise, but alas, I have been sneaking in crackers while making dinner, lots of sweet handfuls of cereals and fruit roll-ups after dinner and nuts when I'm hungry. Those calories add up so quickly!!! And mindless snacking on carbs isn't the best habit anyway.  I believe the difference between losing and maintenance is almost imperceptible. Sad. I'm also buying a few things one size up in case I find I just can't keep myself at the smaller size. I think it's just unrealistic to expect to stay within a 3 pound range.  Most women have at least 2 sizes of pants in their closets. Three sizes is not necessary, but 2 probably is. I'm just doing this for two weeks until our vacation. I imagine vacation will be some extra eating and lots of extra hiking. Then after vacation I'll reassess. My spring capris are bigger than my winter jeans anyway, so that should work out fine.

I thought by this point I could follow my hunger cues a little better, and do less counting, etc. but that is turning out to be super tricky for me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Morning shakes

I used to make a power shake in the morning. It consisted of frozen berries, frozen bananas, yogurt, milk, protein powder and flax oil. I stopped making them as they left me hungry a little while later. Now I realize that between the natural and added sugars, those shakes are really high in sugar and don't provide enough heft to be filling. I also read somewhere that the act of chewing somehow stimulates satiety signals in the brain. Something to do with saliva I think. At any rate, I decided to try again today, a year later. My findings were kind of interesting. First of all Natasha begged me to make a chocolate one. I did, but was guessing at amounts and used way too much cocoa powder. Even she expressed surprise, teeth and lips covered in brown goop that something could be "too chocolaty". Then I tried my more traditional fruit shake. This time I found the shake way too sweet, based mainly on the sweetened vanilla protein powder. The milk, bananas and fruit make it plenty sweet enough for my new palate. I actually had to spill half of it out. I will have to try it again tomorrow without the heavily sweetened protein powder (the theory was that it would keep me fuller longer) and just add a hard boiled egg to the meal. I may reduce the banana ratio as well. I skipped the flax oil as I eat plenty of flax in other things.

But I was happy to see how my sugar tastes have changed.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hesitant to post lately

I had sort of a bad experience during the snowstorm. I ended up reading a bunch of posts from some 20-something women, mainly married, working, no kids. They kept talking about "balance" and posting pictures of complex meals like grilled cheese sandwiches with a slice of tomato. Now I get we were all stuck inside for a while, but I found their sites so off-putting. First of all, what on earth are you balancing?? You have no kids! I know they meant, balancing making healthy choices and being fit, with not being neurotic. But that struggle seems so self-indulgent to me, and even seemed so when I was that age. Of course I had bad habits then but that's not the point. I just found these blogs boring and self-indulgent and out of touch with people who actually might be trying to balance things. And I'm not talking about myself. Some people really have no money, no help, bad spouses, sick kids, etc.

The whole process of reading these blogs made me not want to post. But alas, I made such a yummy cioppino, with some help from Trader Joe's that I decided to share.

So here is my larger point, before sharing my experience. It's an extremely healthy, filling and forgiving recipe. You can make it in a big batch, tailor it to your likes, and it is one of those "better the next day" recipes. I just had it for lunch.

OK I'm a fish snob, having grown up around Cape Cod, and I hate frozen fish. But good fresh fish is just prohibitively expensive here. So I was craving cioppino once, and bought the frozen pre-made TJs package - really low standards for someone who used to only eat fresh seafood. Then I made it and of course augmented it. It wasn't bad! Yesterday I tried again but kind of doubled the recipe. And in a quest to clean out my freezer, which is overflowing, I threw in any number of random ingredients. The more the better. It was really good. Not amazing, made from scratch, spent $75 in ingredients good, but really worth making again. And it was so low-cal and super filling.

So today, at lunch it was much better, as is often the case with stewy things. I went online to look up some recipes. Emeril and Giada do a similar recipe, many spices, many ingredients, kind of a pain, but it made me realize, if I just had fish stock I could have totally made mine from scratch altogether. It' supposed to have fennel and all sorts of dried herbs but I got that from the package. If I made from scratch I would have needed to add some spices in. But my point is the combination of fish stock, wine, tomatoes and all that seafood, even frozen sea food, makes up the base of the dish and it's really flexible beyond that.

Here is what I did...literally throwing into pot.
-started with a can of crushed tomatoes
-4 medium cut up potatoes
-1 cup water
let simmer for 20 min (alternatively just pre-microwave potatoes first) then added
-1 bag frozen scallops
-1 bag frozen de-veined and de-shelled shrimp
-1 package frozen halibut cut into chunks
-1 can artichoke hearts in water, chopped
- half a jar olives, chopped
-1 can tomato paste
-1 can whole plum tomatoes
-1/2 bag frozen spinach
-1/2 bag frozen peas
-3/4 cup frozen roasted and pureed cauliflower from a few weeks ago
-1 cup or so wine - didn't measure but needed a fair bit.

The halibut literally disintegrated, and that with the cauliflower puree, whole can of tomato paste and chopped spinach made for a thick broth. The shellfish handled cooking for a while better than I expected. It didn't get so tough, but I should have waited to put the shrimp in perhaps. The dish would have worked well with white beans, or even pureed beans as a thickener, but it was thick enough anyway.

Any cioppino is super flavorful and healthy - no fat to speak of, except the parm shavings, and shellfish is really low in calories. Since it took a while and I was starving I ate Triscuits with cheese while it was cooking so I picked out the potatoes and skipped the cheese on top. For lunch today I had huge parm shavings on top and it was really good.

Dave ate 2 huge bowls. I could barely finish one. Alex ate some washed off scallops with parm cheese on top. Natasha ate some washed off shrimp and washed off, mashed potatoes. God forbid they ate something in a multi-colored broth. But they ate. I should have given them some carrots but kind of let it go, figuring scallops were enough of a challenge. Yes, I took the pieces out of the stew, washed them in the sink, and put them on the kids' plates. Not ideal, but kids really like their foods separated out, and this pot of shellfish and greens was just beyond the pale.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

At the risk of stating the obvious....

I read somewhere that this was called, "adult peanut butter and jelly"

In this case I used whole wheat naan, almond-flax butter, and sliced jarred peaches. Very good!

I wouldn't qualify this as a "recipe", hence the title of the post, it's more TJs product review, but it was tasty and I especially like the almond and peanut flax butters from TJs. They do seem kind of grown-up-ee, as my kids would say. And the jarred peaches I used don't seem too sugary. Of course fresh would be better, but it is winter.

I found a Trader Joe's cookbook in the book store. It was pretty good actually, and I'm thinking this blog is kind of a Trader Joe's only recipe archive too. The TJs whole wheat naan is very doughy and hearty (and caloric but I eat a big breakfast), the peaches cool and juicy without being too sweet, and the almond butter is salty and crunchy. It makes for a nice mix of textures.