Monday, September 29, 2014

All Part of a Balanced Lunch!

I bring a home-made lunch practically every single day.  Even on those occasions where I'm going to be in a work meeting during the twelve o'clock hour and lunch will be provide for me, I still bring my own food from home just in case the catered lunch is something I wouldn't care to eat, such as pizza or anything with insufficient vegetables.

Today I have items from total ends of the spectrum.  Cauliflower soup, from a "paleo" recipe cookbook.  Creamed kohlrabi and dried apricot cake from my 1940s cookbook. Plus cocky-leeky-ricey soup, of my own creation.  This is, to me, balanced because it contains a good source of protein, some whole-grain carbohydrates, and about 2 1/2 servings of vegetables.  And I'm counting on it holding me through my workout this afternoon.

There's merit to be had in my 1940s cookbook of the standard American diet, even though I don't eat exclusively from the menus presented.  There's also merit from the "paleo" cookbook, even though I'm not a "paleo" advocate.  You can take the good from a variety of options and make it your own.

Last night I was watching "The Supersizers Go...Regency", and the episode made me a bit cranky.  First up, when Giles goes to the doctor to discuss his diet for the upcoming week.  The doctor has looked at the list of foods/meals and comments that Giles is going to consume ~5000 calories a day.  How did he even come to that conclusion?  Even if there is a list of all the dishes prepared for a single family meal, I think it's impossible that there are not leftovers.  Looking ahead from the Regency into the Victorian era, the dictates of fashionable society resulted in a ludicrous number of dishes being served at a dinner party in order to cover the table in the correct manner.  These would not be entirely consumed by a single group of diners, and there would typically be one or more additional dinner parties, with other guests, in the subsequent evenings in order to eat up the leftovers.  Also, cookbooks of the day include many recipes of made-over dishes, designed to use up extra roast meat, potatoes, etc.  Though I like "The Supersizers Go..." for their attempt at immersion into another time period, they quite often fail at real historical accuracy.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mountains or Molehills?

I've discovered that I have a problem when people think something is going to be much more difficult and time-consuming than I think it is.

Case in point: as a corrective action for a problem I investigated at work, a team is required to identify all instances where the problem occurred and correct them.  I led a meeting this morning to make sure they had a plan in place for this corrective action.  (I'm not actually required to do anything for the corrective action, I just wanted to make sure they knew exactly what needed to be done, and could start on it instead of flubbing things at the last moment.)  The meeting ended with them talking about how much work it was going to be, how they might not have time; it just seemed insurmountable to them.

Seriously?  It took a lot of tact and professionalism to point out that I could do it myself, start to finish, in 2-3 working days.  It's not like the information will be difficult to dig up.  It's not like there's any risk of scope creep.  Just three batches of material, a few rounds of testing for each, do it methodically and logically and it'll be done with no problems.  They've got an entire month to sort it out.

Not that I need to translate everything over into the realm of fitness, but apparently it's in my brain.  Perhaps this is why people back out when they're given a task which seems to be too challenging, such as running a 5K or, heck, even starting to exercise in the first place.  They see the big difference between where they are and where they think they should be and the gulf seems wide, too wide.

But every challenging task can be broken up into small, obtainable milestones.  Once I am comfortable with squatting 75 pounds, I increase it to 80.  Probably won't get the same number of reps, but that will come in a week or two.  Even though my goal may be a squat weight of 100 pounds, I don't see the 25 pound difference between 75 and 100.  I see five 5 pound differences, and know that it will take two or three months to get there.

So, I will continue to shake my head at my coworkers and hope that, once it takes hardly any time at all, they freak out less the next time this comes up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Still Working on my Relationship

Go ahead and answer the following sentence.  Having a healthy relationship with food means...

For me, as evidenced by the past few days, having a healthy relationship with food means that I can ignore an array of donuts two mornings in a row because they don't have the kind I want.  Actually, this morning there was a glazed old-fashioned, but it simply didn't look as delicious as I wanted it to be.  Plus, I was already full from breakfast (lentil-rice goat soup, a hard-boiled egg, and some strawberries.)

Having a healthy relationship with food also means that I can have two slices of home-baked apple pie in the same day.  Mmmm...pie.  The traces of autumn I could detect in the air made me long to snuggle down in my house and do some wonderful fall activities.  So, inspired by a FB post, I invited a (thoroughly attractive) male friend to come over and bake the first pie of the season with me.

Having a healthy relationship with food thirdly means that I desire foods for what they are, not because they are "clean" or "healthy" or "forbidden".  At dinner yesterday evening I had the sweetest, most delicious red bell pepper I have ever tasted.  There are three more in my fridge from the same source, which I now plan to savor raw because cooking with them would just ruin the sweet, peppy crispness.  I also keep making the same coleslaw recipe over and over again because it's just so darned good!  (And so easy!  And it helps me use up the stockpile of cabbage I keep receiving from Fifth Crow Farm.)  Plus, I can cook the recipes I like out of a "paleo" cookbook and eat them alongside distinctively non-"paleo" things, and think nothing of it.  It is just food.

In muscle news, we've started Phase 3 of the body recomposition project.  I never expected to spend 50 solid minutes lifting weights, but that's what I did yesterday after work, and for only the upper body.  It was something like four different exercises for the upper back, three for shoulders, three for chest, and then one each for biceps and triceps.  There was some serious fatigue going on.  It'll be interesting to see what kind of delayed-onset soreness kicks in as today wears on.  Tomorrow's symphony rehearsal could get really interesting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Numbers Are In!

This morning contained a voluntary health screening put on by my company.  They'll knock off something like $20 per month from my health insurance premium if I either attend the sponsored health screening or visit my doctor for the same basic tests and upload the data.  It provides a forum for intervention if the numbers aren't in the desirable range.  Sometimes I wonder whether the numbers are used for some fiendish planning, but I go for the superficial here: it's free and quick and saves me money.  So they're welcome to prick my finger for a little blood and compare my results to the recommended health limits.

Of course, it certainly makes me feel good that my results continue to be awesome!  I have the results for the past three years here, so I can see how things compare:

10/11/12 10/10/13 9/16/14 Recommended
Total Cholesterol 140 160 158 <200 td="">
HDL 70 60 69 >60
LDL 61 81 80 <130 td="">
Total/HDL 2.0 2.5 2.3 <3 .1="" td="">
Triglycerides 45 75 45 <100 td="">
Fasting Glucose 81 83 86 70-99
Weight 148 146 148 Whatevs

Also, my blood pressure was great this morning.  One thing that makes me happy is the way that my weight has been so stable for the past few years, and, indeed, the years before that.

What's my secret?  Well, it's not a secret.  It is a sound genetic constitution plus a lifestyle that actually follows all the recommendations that the health professionals hand out.  I exercise 5-6 days per week.  I eat more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and minimize my consumption of processed food.  I sleep for about eight hours per night, going to bed typically before 10 pm.  I engage in a variety of hobbies that make me happy and keep me engaged with the world around me.  I'm still working on flossing every day, but I do have a dentist appointment next week.  :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pick up heavy thing...check.

This morning was my first day in the weight room after a week-long vacation.  Everything was heavy; it was not easy.  (Of course, it's never "easy".)  I'm in week four of the second block of my training program, which is a de-load week.  I was supposed to de-load on reps, rather than weight, but for this morning I chose to de-load on weight as a necessity.  Kicked everything down about 2.5 - 5 pounds.  I'll see what happens tomorrow.

Honestly, I've been having problems with food while on this program.  We're supposed to keep track of protein, fat, and total calories, and periodically eat at a calorie deficit to support any fat-loss goals, but all of that took me much farther away from Intuitive Eating than I'd like to be.  I'm trying to figure out a good way to keep track of things without letting the numbers drive my eating.  I already have the patterns built in to ensure that I'm getting plenty of protein.  My plan is to try logging foods in all at the end of the day, so I only see the numbers after I've finished eating.  That way I can focus on intuition but still track some numbers.

On the cooking front, while doing a little antique shopping for the Gatsby Summer Afternoon, I picked up a cookbook published in 1940.  (Lemme try to remember to take a picture of it.)  I haven't cooked anything yet, but some recipes have caught my eye.  What's particularly amusing is that the section on game includes such delicacies as squirrel and opossum.  Also, the vegetable chapter contains kohlrabi, an excellent vegetable that has fallen out of popularity in our modern times.

If you see kohlrabi at the farmer's market or grocery store, give it a try!  I like to eat it raw.  Just cut off the outer peel (the root end is particularly fibrous, so you might have to pare away more at that end), slice into chunks, and eat.  If you like raw broccoli, you'll enjoy kohlrabi.

Monday, September 1, 2014

1950s Experiment

While we were waiting in numerous lines at California's Great America amusement park on Saturday, my friend mentioned that he should send me a link to a "1950s Housewife Experiment".  Since he has a limited capacity for remembering tiny details, especially after 96 ounces of beer and an exciting iPhone versus Gravity adventure (iPhone 1, Gravity 0.2), I decided to look it up myself.

"1950s Housewife Experiment" made for a quick and easy search on Google, and I read about both of Jen's adventures in semi-immersive 1950s housewife living.  You can chose to read it all yourself here.

What vexed me just a little bit were her descriptions of 1950s cooking.  Not the molded salad abominations--we all know those are scary--but what she perceived as the unhealthiness of it all.  Describing a simple white sauce as heart attack-inducing, coming up with an uncited recipe which uses 1/2 cup each brown sugar and butter to sauce cooked carrots for two people, serving bacon practically every single morning, claiming that dessert is served after every dinner and canned vegetables are used in every recipe.

Attached as I am to my own copy of "Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book"--a facsimile edition of the 1950 original--I could not tolerate having the good name of c. 1950 meals besmirched in this fashion.  If you take a look at the nutrition guidelines presented in the Meal Planning chapter, there's some very reasonable suggestions:

"Be sure that these Basic Seven Foods appear on your table daily to fill in the circle of Good Nutrition:

Group 1: Green and Yellow Vegetables...some raw--some cooked, frozen, or canned; one serving a day
Group 2: Oranges, Tomatoes, Grapefruit...or raw cabbage or salad greens; one serving a day
Group 3: Potatoes and Other Vegetable and Fruits...raw, dried, cooked, frozen, or canned; two or more servings a day
Group 4: Milk and Milk Products...fluid, evaporated, dried milk, or cheese; 1 pt. a day
Group 5: Meat, Poultry, Fish or Eggs...or dried beans, peas, nuts, peanut butter; 1 serving each day
Group 6: Bread, Flour, and Cereals...natural whole-grain or enriched or restored; three or more servings a day
Group 7: Butter and Fortified Margarine...(with added Vitamin A)"

So, let me get this straight: Betty is advocating 4 or more servings a day of fruit and veg, protein sources, whole-grain cereals, and consumption of Vitamin A.  This is unhealthy how?  Since it was published in 1950, it's based on cooking habits coming out of the 1940s, where there was much less dependance on pre-made ingredients, like canned mushrooms and cake mix, and a lot more basic recipes using easily-available, real-food ingredients.

Oh, there's also some basic meal planning for "adequate meals" and "abundant meals".  (I'll put the "abundant meals" add-ons in brackets.)

Breakfast: Fruit, Cereal and Milk, Bread and Butter, [Egg or Meat]
Lunch: Main Dish, Vegetables, Bread and Butter, Fruit, [Cake or Cookies or Pudding]
Dinner: [Appetizer or Soup], Meat and Potatoes, Green or Yellow Vegetables, Salad, Bread and Butter, Fruit, [Pie or Cake]

So, "abundant meals" means a couple hundred more calories in the shape of carbohydrates.

In addition, if you look at Betty's serving sizes, they are very modest compared to what we're accustomed to eating today.  Recipes involving 1 lb of ground meat (filled out with eggs and milk) stretch to serve 6.  Ham and egg pie uses 1/2 lb ham and six eggs, and once again serves 6.  She offers three ways of making a basic white sauce: thin, medium, and thick.  The thin sauce uses 1 T butter, and can be used to make creamed vegetables to serve 4.  That's less than 1 teaspoon of butter per person.  Cookie recipes make 4-6 dozen cookies--and you might get two cookies from the cookie jar if Mom is feeling generous; otherwise that's one 2 1/2 inch oatmeal cookie that you're eating per day.

In fact, I feel so good about these recipes that I'm going to start cooking more of them.  I've started already.  Last night I made creamed vegetables using a medium white sauce and steamed potatoes and green beans.  Tonight I whipped up "New Netherlands Cole Slaw" to pack in my lunch tomorrow.  I've got my eye on the "Green Rice" supper dish, replacing the spinach with some baby kale I received in my CSA box last week.

How about you?  Do you have any favorite recipes from early cookbooks?