Friday, May 27, 2011

What I love about spinning

One thing I love about spinning is the feeling when the fibers are all neatly lined up and drawing smoothly from your hand and you give the spindle a nice firm twist and it feels as though it could just twirl around forever and the mass of wool is just getting eaten up into thread. Rumpelstiltskin, eat your heart out.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Functional Exercise

So you've got to go grocery shopping. However, you also need to go exercise. Both take time--and you only have so much of that. What to do?

Combine the two!

Yesterday, after work, I hitched my backpack onto my shoulders and headed down the hill to my local grocery store. I only bought a few things--rye flour, pistachios, swiss cheese--so the load was not too heavy on the way back. The walk was over 4 3/4 miles of variable terrain, so my legs got to experience hills, stepping up and down curbs, stopping and starting at traffic corners. In addition, my brain got to experience some new scenery, and trying to remember the residential street map so I could avoid the high-traffic streets. As an interesting bonus to this all, I got to enjoy a little music to see me on the way home: the area high school marching band was giving a little concert outside the grocery store.

The only disadvantage was walking on pavement. I would step off onto dirt whenever I could. My feet are so much more energized walking on actual earth.

Since I didn't own a car until I was in graduate school, for all of college I walked around to whatever shops I needed to visit. Sometimes the load in my backpack was excessive--especially since it was filled with more canned goods than fresh foods. However, even now that I can transport myself quickly and easily in my car, it makes sense sometimes to just walk, or ride my bike. After all, I like to exercise, and I like to be efficient.

Once home, I cooked up and enjoyed a fabulous dinner: pesto mashed potatoes, leeks, peas, asparagus, salmon and a little pinot grigio. Plus a few crispy almonds for dessert.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Strange Thought

I was just over on Facebook, looking at some recently posted photos of people I know. Looking at one woman's picture, I thought to myself, "She's so pretty." This turned into, "She's so much prettier than I am. Geez--I'm so plain. Not just plain--malformed. I wish I was beautiful! Waaahhh!"

It was a surprising progression, to say the least, moving from looking at one particular woman (who was, in the photo, highly made-up, coiffed, and wearing a particularly flattering outfit, in addition to blond not being her natural hair color) to thinking that I had no visual value whatsoever. Where did this come from?

Well, visual modes of expression are the norm for determining a woman's "beauty". Whether it is a photo, a painting, or a sculpture, we've been taught over the years to look at things and identify those as beautiful. However, all of these involve artifice. What with airbrushing rampant on magazine covers and lighting/makeup/post-production in movies, we can't look at any modern visual clues to determine what a person really looks like. I'd be more inclined to trust an ancient Greek marble statue as a true depiction of what a woman looks like, even though the stone is a little too smooth to adequately express cellulite. So why constantly compare oneself with others?

In the short term, I soothed my sad feelings by going onto my own Facebook profile and checking out some pictures of myself in which I had been caught in good lighting by a professional photographer and looked particularly pretty. In the medium term, I've blogged about this event, so feel free to comment. In the long term, I've got a great sense of self-esteem, and I know that good looks aren't necessary to be a good person. I just need to work on not comparing myself to others, and making sure that other women don't fall prey to this downward spiral, either.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Farmer's Market Haul

Another Saturday, another bag stuffed with fresh, fabulous food! First, let's talk fruit. I purchased my first apricots and peaches of the year, along with some more cherries, plus a few navel oranges and kumquats. The apples are almost gone (since their heyday is in the fall, winter, and early spring) but I picked up a couple pounds of seconds for making applesauce. I bought eggs, as usual. Then there were the necessary veggies: leeks, kale, potatoes, asparagus, and peas. Fresh English peas, still in their pods, so sweet and flavorful--just shell, boil briefly to heat through, and melt a pat of butter over the top. Heavenly.

My boyfriend is continuing to make me proud out there at the market, by expanding his tastes to include a lot of new produce. It was so much fun to see the look of amazement that spread over his face when I popped a kumquat in his mouth--he has a new fruit to enjoy! Plus, once summer gets here and the market is overflowing with tomatoes and peppers, I know he's going to become a salsa-making machine.

After the market, we headed over to the park to hit the trail for a nice hike--a good 6 miles all told. No deer sightings, which was not surprising, considering it was the middle of the day. I soaked up a lot of sun, becoming saturated with it in fact, which necessitated the application of a little aloe vera gel later in the afternoon. As we hiked and talked over cooking plans, we discussed additional sorbet possibilities. In addition to the blackberry cabernet sorbet, which was already in the works, we came up with blueberry merlot, blood orange zinfandel, and peaches with brandy. I wonder if I could do something with cherries and kirschwasser?

Have you ever had freshly shelled peas? What's your favorite seasonal item from the farmers' market?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weighing in the Balance

Quick! Everyone come over to my boyfriends apartment. The bathroom scale is handing out really low numbers!

It's interesting: I first lost a lot of weight (25-30 pounds) back in high school, when I became a vegetarian. Now I've been losing weight since I started eating more traditional, simple foods, eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates. I haven't seen today's number (141 pounds) since college, when I would eat only undressed salad for dinner and went to the gym at least five days a week.

Here's the results of a great food experiment conducted yesterday:

Blackberry Cabernet Sorbet

Mix 1 package frozen blackberries (about a pint), 1/2 C honey, and 1 1/2 C cabernet (of a decent quality--don't cook with any wine you wouldn't drink!) in a small saucepan. Heat on low for about 45 - 60 minutes, squashing the blackberries against the side of the pan. Cool to room temperature and strain through a sieve, once again crushing the berries as much as you can to extract all the juicy goodness. (I saved the leftover pulp to mix with yogurt.) Chill the strained liquid in the refrigerator, then process in an ice cream maker.

The flavor was really intense. It tasted so good that I almost didn't want to share it with my darling boyfriend, who requested it in the first place, but I saved a cup for myself in my freezer and gave him the rest for his. It does not freeze very solid--there's obviously a lot of alcohol still left in the wine--so perhaps next time I will let it simmer longer. And double the recipe.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Yogurt Success!

You can google it yourself, but some links to various "yogurt in a crockpot" recipes are here, here, and here. Most of them have instructions along the lines of "put milk in crockpot, heat on low for 2 1/2 hours, unplug and cool for 3 hours, add yogurt cultures, wrap the crockpot and let stand for 8 - 12 hours."

The initial heating step is to bring the milk up to 180 F, a sort of follow-up pasteurization step. The cooling period is to bring the milk back down to 110 F, where the bacterial strains of yogurt do their magic. Any hotter and you'll chance killing them, any cooler and they won't be as active so your yogurt probably won't get as cultured.

Since I bend towards science and numbers, I preferred to be a little more precise in finding the right temperatures. Also, since this was the first time I used the crockpot, I thought it would be prudent.

2 hours of heating on low netted me about 160 F; I switched to to high for the next 30 minutes in order to even reach 178 F. I figured that was okay. Good thing I was measuring the cooling process: with the lid off and periodic stirring, my milk cooled to 115 F in under 2 hours. Mixing in 1/3 C of plain yogurt as the culture starter dropped the temperature down to 111 F. That's where I stopped everything, placed a double-thickness hand towel over the lid, and draped a double-thickness fleece blanket over all. When I checked this morning, it was a nice consistency and tasted deeelicious. It's sitting with the lid on in the fridge today, to chill and thicken as far as it likes. Tomorrow I'm going to set up some cloth to make a little yogurt cheese, and get some whey for other purposes.

Milk started heating at 5:20, turned off at about 7:50, added culture around 9:40, checked results a little after 7 this morning. Really easy.

While I was telling my boyfriend about the process of making yogurt, he made a comment along the lines of it being disturbing to have milk hanging out at a high temperature. Isn't that was spoils milk? I find it interesting that we, in our modern lives, are so surrounded by carefully processed, refrigerated, and frozen food that the idea of the natural food preparation and preservation methods are so foreign and strange. In my mind, certainly, eggs and milk have to be refrigerated, otherwise they will explode or strangle you. :) It's been an interesting educational experience to play with food, out at room temperature for days to ferment, and be able to then move it into the fridge to consume over months. I'm certainly not prepared to go without electronically-powered cold storage yet, but I see how it could be an option under certain circumstances.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One Hundred

According to Blogger, this is my 100th post! Envision, if you will, cannons shooting confetti and streamers. I wish I had something fabulous to say, but I must instead report a failed food experiment. I won't gross you out with the details except for this one: too many anchovies. Enough said.

I have a cunning plan for tonight. The yogurt I like best to buy from Whole Foods comes in nice quart glass jars. It also costs about $6 a quart. They rarely have it, I think because they don't get a large stock in the first place and because other, more frequent, shoppers get in their first and buy it all ahead of me. I love dairy products, especially yogurt, and I want to experiment more in making my own yogurt cheese, fruit-sweetened frozen yogurt, and so forth.

On Monday I had the clever idea: purchase a yogurt maker! Three stores and no yogurt maker later, I had the next clever idea: purchase a yogurt maker online! After reading product reviews, I wondered whether it was really worth it. Then I started thinking about how to hold something (milk) at a moderately hot temperature (110 F). Enter the google search for "make yogurt in a crockpot".

Yep, lots of people have had success making yogurt in a crockpot. I want to be one of them. Plus I can then use the crockpot for many other things, as opposed to a yogurt maker which really has only one. I'm headed out for another shopping expedition after work today. Wish me luck! Of course you'll hear about the results of my experiments.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Farmers' Market Haul

Saturday morning was yet another good day for shopping. I started as usual with Fifth Crow Farm, for pastured eggs and baby lettuces. Then it was down to the citrus pusher (long story) where I picked up navel oranges and a couple of avocados. In the next aisle I bought sauerkraut, a 4-lb bag of raw almonds (for making almond butter! and because it is more economical to buy them in bulk and just store in the freezer), and grass-fed cow and lamb parts. Eventually I finished filling up my bag with potatoes, onions, cilantro, asparagus, cucumbers, dill, cherries, and salmon. A very diverse collection, which required two trips around the entire market to find everything and compare prices.

I was actually very proud of my boyfriend. On his earliest visits to the market he would come home with salsa, pumpkin bread, ravioli, etc. That is, all prepared foods, and basically no vegetables. This time he bought for himself some strawberries, bell pepper, onions, potatoes, and asparagus. To be healthier, he's cooking for himself. Apparently there were a few glitches in the actual cooking plan last night, but yay for him for eating his own, fresh food instead of ordering pizza.

We watched the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet "Sense and Sensibility" on Saturday night, and now my brain is filled with simple empire-waisted dresses. It's already thinking about which fabrics in my stash would be suitable. Of course, I've got a lot of sewing already on my list before I can branch off into the Regency styles, but I expect they will begin to get worked on later on this summer.

Yesterday was the "Bay to Breakers" race in San Francisco. Normally it registers in my boyfriend's brain as "can't drive north today", but since he has a newcomer, me, to show everything off to, we ended up heading down to the park to witness the race aftermath. Tons of people, in very silly costumes, and sometimes no clothes at all, turn out to see and be seen. Fortunately it was a very pleasant, sunny day, and I can think of no better way to spend a Sunday than strolling through a park. We even saw five bison down in their paddock. All told, it was 2 3/4 hours of strolling, covering 6.7 miles.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Trying not to stick my oar in--A Rant

A group of friends and I are engaging in a typical activity for us: playing pretend. What it is, is an imaginary pilgrimage. We're walking from London to Holywell as on a medieval pilgrimage. There is actual walking involved, everyone keeps a tab on their distance, and we can share stories of what we see along the way, pictures of various churches, warnings of danger to the pilgrims walking behind us, etc. A sort of living history activity, all being coordinated on a Facebook group.

The other reason for it is to give a number of people, mostly ladies, who are generally overweight and not physically fit, a way to make exercise "fun" and to also give them a goal to work towards. 248 miles of walking between May 11th and Dec 31st. Many of the participants have pedometers, so that any walking they do during the day will count towards the total mileage. Since I typically walk at least 12 miles a week just for fun, I'm only counting my actual outdoor exercise walks.

So far two of the ladies have expressed how they want this activity to help them lose weight and gain fitness, and have even gone so far as to post hard, honest facts as to their weight, body fat %, etc. (Incidentally, I'm 5' 7", weighed in at 142.5 lbs last Sunday, don't know my body fat %, but my measurements are about 35 - 28 - 39, and I'm happy with my body. I still wear push-up bras on occasion, though.)

Quite often, when a group of women get together and talk, they mostly want to share things and get support in return, rather than have anyone pipe up and tell them exactly how to solve their problems. This is why I haven't posted anything to the group list along the lines of, "You know, exercise is only a minor, but relevant, contributor to actual weight loss. Diet is much more important, so if you really want to lose weight you're probably going to have to make major changes in your eating habits." I think it would be unwanted interference. But I do want these ladies to succeed in their health goals, and to have access to all the information they might need as to nutrition.

[Warning--rant ahead.]

I just get frustrated at some people's foolishness sometimes. (Not these individuals, but people in general.) The ones who look at me and what I bring for lunch and say something along the lines of, "Oh, I totally need to lose weight; I should eat what you eat" while continuing to eat junk day after day. Or the ones who "go on a diet", lose pounds, go back to their previous eating habits, and gain the weight back. Yes, "diets" fail. However, a diet in the sense of proper and healthy relationship with food, eating normal portions of actual food, and adding to that regular physical activity as our bodies were meant to perform, that works.

The reason that I lost weight in the first place (from my high of around 185-190 lbs as a teenager) and have maintained my healthy weight all these years is because I don't go back to bad habits. Yes, I spend what some people would consider a lot of time exercising and cooking good food in my kitchen. Those are priorities to me, to facilitate continuing good health. It's not really that much time, however. One could sit down and watch an hour-long prime time television special, or one could go for a lovely 3-4 mile walk outside. Or compare a 1/2-hour television show to the time that it takes to prep some veggies and protein and get them cooking in a tasty soup. To keep going with this, I could make a multi-course dinner and dessert for 6 in the time that some people spend on computer games. Because it's my priority.

This pet peeve extends over the range of anyone who is constantly saying, "I should do X." or "I really want to do Y." and then never does it. Whether it is weight loss, or swordfighting classes, or meeting up with me for a coffee. I'm fine if they don't every do it--I just don't want to constantly hear about how they keep meaning to do it. If you really want something, you can make it a priority and you can make it happen. But it requires you.

Celebrity Carbohydrate Smackdown!

(Note: this was yesterday's post, stored in TextEdit all day long until was back in business. I didn't actually end up cooking for my boyfriend last night; he wanted to go out. So we headed down to a local overpriced gastropub and dined on warm asparagus salad, golden beet and baby lettuce salad, and fish and chips with plenty of vinegar. Plus cocktails.)

My boyfriend will be joining me for dinner tonight. I like to at least attempt to take his food preferences into consideration when I'm cooking for him. I wanted to include my fava leaf pesto in tonight's meal. (Did I tell you I made pesto out of the fava leaves? 2 cloves garlic, 1/3 C walnuts, 1/3 C grated parmesan cheese, 2 big handfuls leaves, all whirred around in my food processor with olive oil.) Pesto tends to be companioned with bland carbohydrate-rich foods, like bread, pasta, or potatoes.

Bread is out; I don't have any in the house. I do, however, have both whole wheat penne pasta and small red potatoes. Boyfriend likes both. I prefer potatoes. However, I decided to put them head to head in the nutrition ring, using the nutritional information located at May the best carb win!

In this corner, we have cooked potatoes, flesh and skin. Weighing in at 100 g, with a predicted glycemic load of 10, these pack 93 calories, 0.1 g fat, 21 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, and 3 g protein. The left hook comes in with RDAs of Vitamin C 16%, Iron 6%, and Calcium 1%, plus respectable amounts of Vitamin B6, Potassium, Manganese, and Folate.

And in the other corner we have cooked whole wheat pasta. Weighing in also at 100 g, with a slightly higher predicted glycemic load of 12, this comes a swingin' with 124 calories, 0.5 g fat, 27 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, and 5 g protein. It's got a right jab of RDAs of Iron 6%, Thiamin 7% and Calcium 1%, plus Magnesium, Phosphorus, Manganese, and Selenium.

It's rough; the two are rather evenly matched. However, the potatoes just scored a lucky hit, because their Omega 3:Omega 6 ratio is 0.30 compared to pasta's puny 0.05. My grandmother has a better 3:6 ratio!

The final haymaker comes in, knocking whole wheat pasta to the ground in a scattered penne pile, because the mighty potato is dug out of the earth whereas pasta is an industrial creation.

My sister will agree with me here: Potatoes Win!

In other news, if you check the postings from late March you'll find a recipe for fruit & nut balls--an all-natural treat. Back then I had hopes of modifying things to provide a fantabulous alternative to traditional rum balls, made from such avoidable ingredients as powdered sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla wafer crumbs. That is, refined sugar in a multitude of disturbing forms. I have once again succeeded! Here's the recipe:

Rum Raisin Balls

1 C raisins soaked in 1/4 C rum

1/2 C almond meal

1/2 C flaked unsweetened coconut

2 T cocoa powder

Additional coconut, almond meal, or cocoa powder for rolling

Using your food processor, process the raisins and any leftover soaking liquid into a paste. Add the almond meal, coconut, and cocoa powder and pulse a few times to combine. Roll tablespoon-sized portions into balls between your palms, and coat with whatever you like. (I used coconut.) Place in a single layer on parchment paper and stick in the freezer to firm up before removing to an airtight container. I'm storing them in the fridge, just to keep the rummy goodness from evaporating away. Makes about 12-14 balls, depending on how generous you are with your tablespoonfuls.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nettle soup!

Just finished a delicious lunch of soup and salad, and wanted to report in on my first experience eating nettles. Fabulous! I was worried at first, when I was prepping the nettles, because they smelled so bitter and strange. In soup, however, they toned down to a pleasant earthiness and a fun texture. Here's how the recipe went together last night:

1 onion
2 ribs celery
1 large carrot
1 large clove garlic
1 can diced tomatoes, 15 oz.
bay leaf
large canellini beans, about 2 cups cooked
white wine (red would also work)
crushed red pepper (optional)
6-8 cups nettles (leaves and stems, see prepping note below)
1-2 teaspoons tamari sauce (to taste)

Heat the lipid of your choice (olive oil, butter, etc.) in a large saucepan over medium heat. Chop up the first four ingredients into nicely diced pieces and saute the mirepoix until it is fragrant and starting to become golden. Add enough wine to cover the vegetables and simmer to cook down. Add the can of diced tomatoes and a can full of water. Add the bay leaf and crushed red pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked beans, the prepped nettles tamari sauce. Add more water, or broth, as desired to reach your favorite level of stew/soupiness. Simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.

This made four hearty servings. Two are currently in my freezer, so that I have the makings of a quick lunch some work day in the future.

After being forewarned by the lady at the farmers' market regarding the stinging power of nettles, even after they've been picked, I decided to give them a little extra prep work. You could, of course, just wear gloves and skip this step. What I did was place a towel-lined colander in my sink, dump in the nettles from their bag, and then pour boiling water over everything. I let it cool for a bit, then picked up the ends of the towel to wrap around the greenery and wrung it out. Then the nettles went on the cutting board and got chopped up. The stems were relatively tender and edible, but were not the most wonderful textural addition ever. If you feel so inclined, with your gloves on, strip the leaves from the stems while raw and discard the latter. Then you can just add the leaves to the pot.

My lunch today was a fantastic example of the glories of my farmers' market. The onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and nettles for the soup all came fresh from there. My salad consisted of baby greens, grated carrot, sliced radishes, a hardboiled pastured egg, plus olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing, and only the vinegar came from the grocery store. I'm just tickled by all the whole, real foods I am able to eat.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Leaves!

Had an excellent trip to the farmers' market on Saturday. Not only did I stock up on dried fruit (raisins, apricots, white nectarines, peaches, cherries) and pick up my usual mainstays of potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, salad greens and eggs, I found some new foodstuffs tucked away--actually in bold display--in one of the back corner organic farm booths.

You're familiar with fava beans, but take a gander at fava leaves:

Plus, if you've every been exposed to stinging nettles (as I was as a child), you know how much they hurt! Would you ever want to eat them? What if I told you they were incredibly nutritious:

My plan is to try some of the fava leaves in my latest favoritest beans and greens recipe (involving walnuts, garlic, lemon, and giant beans) and test out the nettles in pesto and in garlic mashed potatoes. I decided that I haven't been eating enough garlic lately, so I bought a fresh head to use liberally.

My wine collection has more than doubled in size. Hurrah! First, my sweet and generous boyfriend gifted me with a bottle on Friday--a red from Greece which is wonderful to drink because it has minimal tannins. Then on Sunday we made a quick stop at the beverage store, where I purchased a lovely riesling and a chenin blanc. These plus the bottles of sauvignon blanc and a French red mean that I can cover just about any wine requirements.

A big box of coconut macaroons has shown up in the break room. As I was in there getting tea out of my lunch bag, I was struck by the fact that I'm going to have to wage an ongoing battle with sugar. It's everywhere, it's accessible, and I am addicted. The battles are not too hard to win, however, especially when the macaroons look as lifeless and dull as these ones. Plus I'm already devising a recipe in my head, for tasty treats made from coconut, almond meal, and raisins.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Raisins and Cinnamon and Peanuts--Oh My!

You should have eaten my breakfast this morning. Or, rather, you should have asked me to double my breakfast and give you half, because if you ate my breakfast then where would I be?

To make a long story even longer, last weekend I forced my boyfriend to clear the old food out of his cupboard. This included a box of irish oatmeal, which was purchased years back under the auspices of: "I should eat healthy. Oatmeal is healthy. Therefore, I should eat oatmeal." So he cooked the oatmeal, ate it, found it boring and undelicious, and left the box to sit in his cupboard for years.

Getting back to my breakfast, my dear boyfriend probably didn't enjoy his oatmeal so much because he cooked it up as just oats and water--not very exciting for the taste buds. My breakfast oats were so tasty! Here was the overall scheme:

1/4 C steel-cut oats soaked overnight in 1/2 C water
Add 1/4 C milk in the morning and cook
Mix in 1/4 C raisins, a liberal shake of cinnamon, and another of chia seeds
Top with two spoonfuls of peanut butter

Now, here's why this breakfast was particularly awesome. Check out this article, free from the journal Pediatrics. High Glycemic Index Foods, Overeating, and Obesity. In brief, twelve obese teenage boys were evaluated on three separate occasions. They were fed a breakfast specially engineered to have either a high, a medium, or a low glycemic index but the same overall caloric content. Their hunger rating and various blood parameters and were measured for the next 5 hours. Then they were fed lunch, the same as their breakfast. For the 5 hours after lunch, they had access to snacks and their food choices were monitored.

It's a very interesting study and not difficult to comprehend, so, really, go give it a read-through. The results were: the boys reported being hungrier during the 5 hours after the high-GI breakfast, and they consumed much more snacks during the 5 hours after the same high-GI meal for lunch. Even though a whole grain (oatmeal) was a major constituent of both the high- and medium-GI meal, the difference between instant and steel-cut oats led to a significant difference in reaction by the body. Having a meal higher in fat and protein and lower in carbohydrates (an omelet) was even better at keeping insulin, hunger, and overall calorie consumption low.

Steel-cut oats have a GI value of 42, rolled oats 50, while instant oats are 66. Raisins are high at 64, but better those than brown or white sugar (both 70) since raisins also contribute fiber and iron, plus other fruity micronutrients. The overall glycemic load of my breakfast was lowered by the addition of milk (glycemic index 27) and peanut butter (40), in a sort of gestalt effect.

So all those times as a child that I enjoyed a nice piece of swiss cheese with my morning porridge at grandmother's house, I was doing something beneficial by getting a little extra protein and fat with my cereal grains.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ah, the devil you know

There's a pocket on the back of my lunch bag. I stuff tea bags into it, so I have some nice homey tea to drink at work. (There's tea in the break room, but I don't know how old it is, and so often I find bagged tea to be way too tannic, since it's made from tea sweepings, so I stick to the bags that I do like.) As I was rummaging through it for tea, I found at the very bottom a square of Ghirardelli dark chocolate with raspberry filling.

Ever since that Wednesday, way back in March, I've been so good about not eating any refined sugar. I slipped up, once, and discovered how much it wasn't worth it to have a body full of sugar. Blech. But this was chocolate. Dark chocolate. And raspberry. The temptation was great. After all, it was just one square. Just this once.

I overcame the temptation. After all, it's just not worth it. Into the garbage it was going.

I happened to flip it over and read this on the ingredient list: partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

Into the garbage it went, without any guilt whatsoever. I might have to fight sugar, but anything with the words "partially hydrogenated" or "high fructose" are not going to pass my lips voluntarily. This rule makes it a lot easier to fight against the convenient packaged foods that my body has been suckered into enjoying.

Perhaps instead of tagging this "sugar-free", I should now declare myself "free from sugar". :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Functional Exercise

There you are, Monday after work, thinking about how you really should go exercise, but feeling fatigued, sleepy, recovering from your weekend. At least, that's how I am on some Mondays. However, this past Sunday I was reflecting to my boyfriend that I hadn't done anything of particular exertion that day, so I would have no excuses not to go exercise after work the next day.

I had a choice: bike over to the park and go hiking, or bike downtown and take care of some errands. The choice depended entirely on one variable: whether I received, during the course of the day, a paycheck to deposit at the bank. Once that piece of paper was in my hands, it was final.

Biking downtown made for a very nice trip. I didn't have to deal with the other drivers, or finding and paying for parking. There's a sturdy bike rack outside the library, and I was able to walk my bike right into the post office and up to the atm. The trip to downtown was a cinch: it was downhill the entire way. The return trip was what I knew would be a chore. I am not, nor have I ever been, a strong cyclist. Sure, it was easy to do 10 mile pleasure trips around Long Beach because that's all flat. Maybe there's one hill, or an overpass. This trip kicked my butt the first time I tried it, way back last winter.

Enter: actual use of the gears on my bicycle! Made things much easier. I nearly made it all the way home. The last rise to the stop sign close to my house was just too much, so I stepped off and pushed the bike the rest of the way. Still, success! I exercised, I got things done, I saved some gas. I was even home earlier than I expected. Productive leisure at its finest.

I made some ice cream this weekend, since it was warm and I wanted a tasty dessert. It was an experiment in flavorings, though: 1 C milk, 1 C cream, and 1 C half and half mixed up with 1 egg yolk and 1/4 C honey. Added 1 rounded T cocoa powder, 1 rounded t cinnamon, and a dash of vanilla. The sweetness level is good, and the flavor is slightly reminiscent of a malted milkshake. A win, in my books.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Totally full!

Just finished lunch, and I feel so full. In fact, the fullness seems out of proportion to what I actually consumed. Here's the list:

Roasted sweet potatoes and leeks, about 1/3 C of the former and 1/4 C of the latter
Peas and carrots (like Mom used to make), about 1/3 C
Inner romaine lettuce leaves, about 5 small
1 hardboiled egg
1 hunk sourdough rye bread, about 2 x 2 x 3 inches
1 navel orange

Good mix of protein, fruits, veggies, and carbohydrates. And apparently very filling!

My schedule did not allow me to go to the farmers' market on Saturday, so I don't have an awesome haul to report. I've got a lot of onions and potatoes in my kitchen right now. The potatoes have already been roasted in the oven, to save time later. There's still some greens and a red cabbage in my fridge, plus a few carrots and celery stalks left. What's seriously low right now is fruit. My entire fruit supply is in the cupboard, dried: raisins, dates, and cherries. I'll see how this state of affairs works over the next few days, 'cause I think I'll be able to make it through to Saturday without the need for grocery shopping.

What I did do this weekend was visit the Legion of Honor art museum in San Francisco. Not only is the Isabelle de Borchgrave "Pulp Fashion" exhibit there (for another month, in case you still want to visit!), but a gorgeous Roman mosaic from Israel is set up in one of the back galleries. Plus there's the ongoing collection of art, sculpture, furniture, and architecture from many different countries and periods. Visiting the museum involved a lovely walk through Lincoln Park, on a trail along the coast, so I was able to enjoy a beautiful day in many different ways.