Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Local Produce is Everywhere!

My learning curve on buying local is extremely steep! I thought it would be easy: just shop at the farmers markets. But what about when you need something mid-week? Or buying a food that isn't produced locally? (Don't buy it some would say, but I'm not quite there yet. I love my pineapples!)

Well, I'd go broke running to Whole Foods every day (and they don't use a lot of local growers), so I'm looking for other resources. First, I am planting a garden—a big one—for this summer. Tim is a great gardener and together we plan to grow and pick enough vegetables to take us into winter either through canning or freezing. But we aren't quite ready to grow all of our vegetables (we won't grow mushrooms, corn, broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, for example).

Well, I can go to Williamson Street Coop, but the problem there is that all of the vegetables, etc. aren't from local growers. Some are, some aren't. But it's a good backup plan. Fortunately for me, there's Paoli Local Foods, just a couple miles from my house. I could ride my horse there (and I might try it some day.) They have a wonderful, wide variety of grass-fed, locally grown meats from Ruegsegger Farms (Ken and Sherrie Ruegsegger operate it). They also have locally grown honey, organic essentials and a farmers market every Saturday.

There are also many CSA's in the area, including Ruegseggers who run a meat CSA. To find them, go to the Web site for Madison Area Community Support Agriculture Coalition. Many are already full for the year, but there are still some really fun places accepting orders. Each has their own specialty. We are planting a lot of heirloom vegetables in our garden, but if we didn't we'd specifically look for a CSA that offered heirloom vegetables.

Finally, it seems to me the the key to having plenty of locally grown fruit and vegetables year round is canning and freezing. I'm not a huge lover of canned vegetables, but I do like canned tomatoes and pickles. My friend Sue always has a lot of frozen blueberries and I love it when she shares. My mom always has raspberry and strawberry freezer jam, another favorite and Tim's mom saved the day when she froze a ton of rhubarb for us last year. We've had rhubarb custard pie at least once a month all year (Tim's fave). You don't have to grow your own to can and freeze. Buy tons when it's in season or during pick your own time and then get to it. The Farmgal's Web site provides you with instructions on both if it's new to you, as does this one for Pick Your Own.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Why do I do what I do?

In my last blog—a week ago now—I mentioned Nina Planck. Well, I ran right out to Borders and bought their last copy. What a great book. It's not the typical book about food with recipes and resources (although there are some resources). It really provides the science behind the idea. I love it. It really helps with some of those questions I have about why certain foods are better. It also backs up what Tracie has been telling me.

I also had the opportunity to learn why I sometimes choose to eat foods that aren't part of my plan. Thursday night I heard Dolores Kokinos of The Empowerment Cafe speak about the Empowerment Principles. The principles are guidelines that help you understand why you do what you do and how your thinking affects those behaviors. Instead of saying 'I have no willpower' now, I now know that I fail to put myself first in almost every situation.

Basically, Ms. Kokinos said that to be fully happy and empowered in life, you need to feel well-grounded in terms of Security, Belongingness, Respect, Intention and Acceptance in all areas of your life (she breaks them into Relationships, Spirituality, Career, Health and Play). I realized that in my Relationships and Health areas, I always put other people first, feeling that I don't respect myself as much as I should. It's been a pattern in my life to feel that people won't respect me unless I go overboard helping them out.

I also have some shakiness in the Security aspect of my life (that means that when Security is good, I feel good, but when it's not good, I feel bad—whereas if someone doesn't appear to be Accepting me for who I am, I'm still feeling good because I am strong in that area. I've never had to fit in with the crowd.)

Wait, now that I think about it, my Belongingness is strong because I don't have to fit into a crowd. Perhaps my Acceptance is shaky as well because I feel that people won't Accept me if I'm not thin and that worries me, so I do too much. Hmmm. Now I get it. I have no problem speaking up for myself and I almost always garner Respect for my skills (almost always). So perhaps when it comes to Career, I'm more worried about Respect, but for Health and Relationships, it's more about Acceptance. Now that I think about it, that makes a lot more sense.

I do remember when I was thin, there were some people that were always watching me to mess up in other aspects of my life (romance, work, etc.) and then would be very harsh with me. I hated that. I felt very unworthy of the accolades, but really hating their antagonism. I also hated unwanted attention from men. If I wanted it, I liked it. But gross old men or someone's boyfriend, I hated. I had almost forgotten that. It's not that I thought everyone hated me or wanted me. It was really just the mean girls and the guys I didn't like. They're the ones who scared me the most.

She also taught us to look at our behaviors and assess which type of emotions (Avoiding, Denying, Sabotage, Defending or the good one, Embracing) you are using in those behaviors. So here goes. . .

Eating the wrong foods when I know they are wrong: Avoiding or Denying, meaning that I am not believing that I am deserving or worth making the right choice—too expensive—or waiting to diet tomororw.

Not exercising: Avoiding or Denying.

Not writing down what I eat: Avoiding or denying.

Hmm. I have to get a little deeper, but I think Avoiding is the real emotional behavior here. I do it too when it comes to balancing my checkbook. If I don't balance it, then I won't know that I don't have any money (what do you mean I don't have any money, I have plenty of checks!)

Ok, so I am avoiding dealing with food and exercise because in part I want to pretend it's not a problem and also because then I don't have to put myself first, which is scary. Those who know me may not think so, because I can be very outspoken, but I have felt a little panicky when I start losing weight, even though I often feel good.

Well, to deal with this today, I'm going to print out my food journal and write down the two eggs, blackberries and grapes and English muffin (woops on the E.m.) I had for breakfast. Then go to the fridge and plan what we will eat today. It's rainy outside, so I won't be walking (it's also windy and really kind of dark). But I will go do 100 situps and at least 5 pushups. Wait, I'll do it all before I sign off.

Ok food journal is printed. For snack I'm having gelatin in fruit juice. For lunch I'm having leftover cold baked chicken with sugar snap peas. For afternoon snack I'm having some cottage cheese with strawberries and for dinner I'm having leftover ribs with green beans.

Now for the exercise: Oh my gosh! Those crunches were harder than I thought. But I did about 103 and the pushups were ok. I did 5 (I probably could have done 8.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Viva Nina Planck

First order of business is to state that I did a horrible job of staying on diet this weekend. I won't go into the list, but I capped it off last night with a healthy serving of Tim's pizza. It's so delicious--I have to find a way to fit it into my diet on a regular basis when I've been doing good. Not a topper on an already bad weekend.

My friend Nancy is in town—she's a frequent commenter on the blog—and we talked about why we are having trouble. At first we both had excuses. The kids won't eat what we do, the men in our lives are skinny and eat what we can't, we're under pressure, we don't have time to work out. But the real truth is, we're not giving it 100 percent.

What does 100 percent look like? Well, I can't answer for Nancy, but for me it means always eating less food than my eyes would like me to have. Always finding time for exercise, even a walk with the dogs, and always eating real foods rather than processed foods. Shopping the farmers markets rather than the supermarkets whenever possible.

I discovered Nina Planck's Web site today, and she's a real inspiration. She's the true champion of the small food farmer and has written a book talking about how when you eat real food—not low-fat makeover foods with tons of additives and less nutritional value—you'll be healthy and feel good. Her book, Real Food, shares why butter is good for you, but the polyunsaturated oils are not. Why grass-fed beef is a superfood and why those who don't get enough Omega-3 oils are in trouble.

Today, I'm going to do my best to only eat real foods and, even though my guy or kids won't always, I will make what's best for me no matter what.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friends in town

This has been a fun weekend! Lots of visitors from out of town. Tim's brother is in town as is his mom and stepdad, so we've had lots of delicious food in the house. Then tonight, my friend Nancy (and blog follower), is in town for an interview for a job on Monday, so we of course had to eat when we got together. Here's the thing. I want to be a great hostess, but still stay on the healthy eating plan.

So tonight, I made Nancy leftover roast chicken, roasted garlic potatoes and spinach gratin (which she doesn't really like) and noodles alfredo. She did a great job and stuck to a few potatoes, chicken and a bite of spinach. Whereas, I enjoyed some of the noodles, a few bites of chicken and a large serving of the spinach gratin. (She's editing as I type.)

So I want to really think about what I'm eating in terms of how to feed those I love without feeling like I have to overdo, German grandmother style. Tomorrow, I'm going to make a nice fruit salad with yogurt for breakfast. I think we'll do some lean meat on a salad for lunch with a nice piece of bread and dinner will be something a bit more fun (I'll just have less).

Tim's brother, who's a real honey, bought treats for everyone today -- chips and salsa. Fortunately, I don't like them and won't feel tempted. Nancy, on the other hand, says she would have eaten half the bag if she would have known before we had dinner. (Ouch, that smack hurt, Nancy!) I guess, the moral to this story is that different foods trigger pigouts, and I have to be conscious of bringing foods around me that aren't my own brand of comfort foods.

So when guests come into town, I need to plan for their comfort, which might be healthy foods and not fattening foods that are misguidedly meant to love and nurture them. They want to feel good as much as I do.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Recipes from America's Test Kitchen

This weekend a kind friend loaned me her DVDs she purchased from America's Test Kitchen, the PBS show that airs on Saturdays at noon. The test kitchen does dozens of tests on recipes to find the best methods and ingredients for a dish. It's put on by the founders of Cook's Illustrated magazine.

What was interesting was that many recipes fit my eating plan because when you get back to nature, everything seems to taste better and work better.

Many of the recipes called for some kind of fat, and what was discovered is that fats such as those found in certain kinds of meat, butter and dairy were often the best. For example, making scrambled eggs with some half and half rather than 2 percent milk keeps the protein molecules in the eggs from compressing too much and leaching all the liquid, thus making dry eggs. I use one tablespoon of half and half to every two eggs. The difference is amazing!

They also made a meatloaf recipe using all beef and a little gelatin instead of mixing veal and pork with it. The veal and pork make the consistency of the meatloaf softer so you aren't just eating a large hamburger. Here's the basic recipe for the meatloaf, although it is better explained on the Web site (you have to become a member to see the recipes).

1 lb. ground sirloin
1 lb ground chuck
3 oz. of grated Monterrey Jack cheese (put in freezer for 10 minutes before using)
2 small onions minced
1 stalk of celery minced
21 crushed saltine crackers (these provide best consistency, but I used dried sourdough bread crumbs)
1/2 tsp. powdered gelatin (they used Knox)
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 eggs
1 TB butter
1 clove garlic crushed
2 TB dried thyme
1 tsp. paprika
2 TB tomato juice
1 TB soy sauce
2 TB parsley
1 TB dijon mustard
salt andpepper to taste

First, you put tinfoil on a cookie sheet, then put a rack on like you might use for cookies to let air circulate and fat run out. On top of that, make a 6-inchx10-inch tinfoil pad with holes poked in with skewer. You'll put your meatloaf on that so it doesn't become enmeshed in rack. Spray a little olive oil or butter on it to keep meatloaf from sticking (I didn't do this and it didn't stick anyway).

Saute onions and celery in 1 TB of butter until they are soft. Add garlic, thyme, tomato juice and paprika after they are almost done. Let cool.

Put chicken broth and eggs in a bowl. Bloom the gelatin in it by sprinkling it over the top. When it looks like wrinkly skin, wisk it all together.

Mix all ingredients together until it starts to form a loaf. Scoop it out and form it on the tinfoil pad. Use a spatula wetted under the faucet to smooth the sides and top. Put it in a 375-degree oven on the center rack for about an hour or until it's 135-degrees inside. About half-way through cooking, make a glaze of 1/2 cup catsup, cider vinegar, brown sugar and dijon mustard with a little hot sauce then spread 1/2 of it on meatloaf when there's about 15 minutes left to cook. Add the rest when it is done and put it under the broiler for a little bit to brown it up.

Really pretty and yummy meatloaf. It sounds complicated, but it goes quickly.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Posting comments

Some of my friends have said they've had trouble posting comments. Here's my understanding of how it works. I really like comments and have heard that some comments have helped other people. So keep commenting!

First, you can post as anonymous. To do this, you click on comments at the bottom of the page. If there are no comments, it looks like this (0 comments) and comments is underlined. Then write your comment in the box. Then click on the drop down box and click on "anonymous."

Second, you can open an account. To do this, I've used Google, and set up an account using my main email and then using a password. The process for commenting is the same. Write comment in comment area, use drop down to click on Google account, then when google account comes up you put in your email and password, then hit ok or whatever, and your comment will appear.

Thanks for commenting!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Why be fat?

I'm taking in all of this great nutrition information that Tracie Hittman Nutrition is giving me and I really notice now when I eat right and when I don't. I feel it in my bones, my skin, my organs and my attitude. But sometimes I can tell that I'm sabotaging my efforts or not believing that I deserve it. Why is that?

I'm writing a book with Dolores Kokinos, a business consultant who works with company and organization staff (and private individuals as well) to help them understand why they might be making choices that don't get them the results they want. The information is exciting and really intriguing, but now I'm beginning to think I should apply that information to my struggles with weight loss/ Why am I fat?

I now know what to eat, but I don't always do a good job. I think about being thin every day. I like exercising, but when I go on a diet it seems like pulling teeth to get me to do anything really strenuous. Why? Wish me luck on my journey!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cut the crap, people!

I've really started to pay attention to food labels and I must say it disgusts me when I see how much extraneous junk food producers are putting in their food. You think you're eating healthy when you get low-fat, but you're not. All those gums I've mentioned previously are in EVERYTHING! (I so rarely type in all caps and use exclamation marks because then I look like an 8th grade girl, but this calls for it, I swear.)

And cheeses. My gosh, you'd think the ones that say "all natural" would have nothing but milk and salt and other cheesy stuff in them, but they always seem to add a bunch of other junk: coloring, weird enzymes, etc.

If I had all the money in the world, I would shop at Whole Foods every day, but I don't. And if I had all the sun in the world, I'd grow my own. Again, problem. So I have to be a picky eater, which doesn't come naturally to me. I just wish food manufacturers would stop adding junk to their food. Jeez.