New and Exciting!

To me at least.  And if I don’t start bookmarking the blogs that peak my interest I am going to shoot myself.  Cause SOMEBODY gave me this idea.  And I would certainly give them credit if I was 20 years younger and my memory was better.  Okay, this is the idea:

GRANITA!

Doesn’t that look good?  And the idea was this:  just take some fresh fruit, ice, water, and if needed, a little sweetener of choice, blend in the blender, and drink.  That just sounded so refreshing to me when I read it. This was unbelievably delicious, and only 50 calories.  My mind is reeling with all the variations you could make.

To make this I used 10 cherries, about 6-8 small ice cubes, one cup of water and a teaspoon of splenda granulated (which was not really necessary.)  And let me say that I know by definition granita is more frozen or icier.  But this was nice and slushy, and you could make a thousand variations on this.  Use frozen fruit if you want it icier.  Use less fruit and more ice or water for a light refreshing drink.  I might try getting club soda to make it a little fizzy.  But I like the idea of using fresh fruit and plain old water for the most healthful treat.  This was a nice pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon, and a lot less calories than my usual afternoon  snacks.  Pubsgal showed a drink on her brilliant blog Pubsgal Eats (you MUST read this blog.  Its better than  any reality television show I’ve ever seen.)  Anyway, the drink had mint and a bit of rum in it–more variations on a theme.  I have some mint growing in my garden–about the only new plant I’ve gotten this year due to  a certain young man who likes to rearrange my garden–and a touch of mint seems like it would be very refreshing in a granita.

And for PJ, who asked for a wagging shot of Mr. Monk (and also for his NUMBER ONE FAN, Miss Thing 2) here is a picture of Mr. Monk, supremely happy with one of his ‘toothpicks.’  Can you believe this little guy was ever abandoned at the city shelter?  He is a real gem.

The Right Equipment

I guess this is something everybody already knows, but thought I’d put it out there for those just starting out on this fitness journey who might not be as inclined to treat themselves to ‘the right equipment.’  Whew.  That sentence was a little too long.  But you probably get my drift.

I’m actually one of those people prone to just make do and not invest a lot of money in the right equipment.  But because of the encouragement of certain bloggettes, I happen to have  a nice collection of running gear.   Dietgirl talked a lot about the right sports bra, and while I didn’t get the one she recommended, I did get a darn good one.  And then Vickie told me about the wonders of wearing two pairs of socks.  Lori and Shelley have talked quite a bit about their running clothes, and so when I was at Marshall’s one day, I shelled out a few more dollars than normal for a really nice pair of running pants.  And of course, due to Shelley’s generosity, I have a Nike Plus that I can use (don’t tell Shelley, but I haven ‘t quite figured out how to use it yet…)  And I have my beloved Saucony running shoes, which I do replace pretty regularly, since I walk (and run ) so much.

So almost every day…well, on my best days…I put on all the right equipment and head out for my walk with Noah.  Even when there was an extended period of time there when my knees and my back were hurting too much to want to run.  But I was READY if everything felt right.  And eventually I just started back running, and challenging myself to go a little farther and to run a bit more UP the hills.  And having all the right equipment on made a tremendous difference in how far and how hard I would try to keep going.  And now, I’M RUUU-NNNING (said in a Forrest Gump voice.)  This morning after practicing Noah’s obedience lessons with him, we ran for practically the whole three miles.  And tonight, after listening to the Two Fit Chicks podcast (I LOOOOVVVE THESE PODCASTS SOOO MUCH!!!) I WANTED to go out and run again!  So I put Noah in the car (he loves the car ride) and drove to the end of the road so we could run where it was a little flatter. That was fun.  Not too far, probably a mile or so.  But a cool breeze was blowing, I had taken the time to put the right equipment on again, and it just makes me feel good about myself.  The bra–well you know what that does, and the pants–they just stay in place, don’t bunch up , and they kind of move with me.  And the two pairs of socks–I hate it when my socks get wrinkled inside my shoes.  Wearing two pairs not only gives my feet extra cushioning, they just stay in place so nicely.  And to quote Forrest again,  That’s all I want to say about that.

Wildflowers along the road tonight.

Today my food choices were SUPERB (gotta say that in a French accent.)   PLEN-TY of veggies.  A modicum of fruit, a little dairy, a little protein, and not too many dessert type foods.  (But enough to make me satisfied.)  I made two batches of yogurt and strained one so I have plenty of regular AND Greek yogurt for the week. I did some ‘grown-up chores’ (good grief how old do I have to be before I stop thinking of boring maintenance stuff as  grown-up chores?)  And when I came home from that, the day was about gone, but I put some beets in to roast for a salad, and then I washed ALL THREE DOGS!   Don’t Sophie and Mr. Monk look fluffy LOL?  (The first shot is on my ‘auto’ setting, and after that I experimented and figured out how to set the camera to night time shots–what a difference, huh?)

Okay, this last shot of Noah is a bit too much of a ‘self-portrait.’  A little too much of my clutter showing up in this pic.  That rope thing is one of his beloved ‘childhood’ toys that he has recently rediscovered.  He still has that funny puppy ‘halo’ of fluffy hair on top of his head.

Food Fabulous and Flops

What I eat on any particular day is very influenced by two things.  Number 1:  What I have in my house.  Number 2:  What I have been reading about/hearing about/looking at.  I present two cases in point.

I bought a big box of fresh blueberries at Costco the other day.  I don’t actually like eating plain blueberries.  But I love to make scones with fresh blueberries.  So before I froze the rest of these, I decided to make a batch of blueberry scones this morning.  I tried using spelt flour instead of whole wheat flour this morning.  FAB-U-LOUS.  One of them is very satisfying for breakfast.  With the added walnuts and flaxseed meal, and using yogurt for the liquid, they have a good amount of protein.

Later in the day I tried to make some granola that I had seen and bookmarked. I think I am giving up on making my own granola.  I followed the recipe.  I set my timer to check every 10 minutes.  I even lowered my oven temperature a little bit.  And still I burned the whole batch and had to throw it out.   And I was left with that lovely cinnamon smell in  my house driving me nuts.  So I made a little bowl of ‘raw’ granola for a snack–very satisfying I must say.

In the afternoon I went out to do a few chores and that included a stop at the grocery store and the farmer’s market for VEGETABLES!  I have vegetables in the house.  All I have to do now is to EAT them.  Instead, I had something I had been hankering after for a few days.  I had a discussion with my brother about the best hamburger place in Amarillo (yes, Texas, home of beef-lovers.)  And then I saw Lori’s delicious little burger on her blog the other day.  So I looked for those buns at the grocery store, couldn’t find them, and bought a box of Thomas’s Hearty Grains English Muffins to use as a bun.  (Even though I’m not eating much wheat.)  And I bought some ground sirloin at the store too.  And this is what I had for dinner.  EXTREMELY SATISFYING.  Not too many veggies.  Part of the problem is time and planning.  I’ll get ‘em going pretty soon.

Then, I remembered I had a pack of (I’m embarrassed to admit this) Reese’s PB Cups.  ‘Only’ 100 calories.  And there were 8 for a dollar.  Well, the package is twice the size of the actual piece of candy.  SOOOOO not worthy.  These will be gone tomorrow morning.  Kind of makes me mad at myself that I have to keep testing the waters.  Who said they were like Lot’s wife,  looking back wistfully at her old evil life until she turned into a pillar of salt?  I don’t have to tell you what kind of pillar I will turn into if I keep looking back wistfully at my old life.

Overall, I am pleased with my food choices today, and especially with the AMOUNT of food I ate.  It was just right.

P.S. My blueberry scone recipe really needs to be updated.  I’ll try to do that in a day or two.

An Extraordinary Salad

Can’t take credit for this one, people, but wanted to share this wonderful salad ‘recipe’ with you.  Its  one of Vicky’s creations, and one of my favorites.  I think the orange adds an extra zing to the flavor combo.

Mixed greens, oranges, green onions, carrots, blue cheese, and toasted almonds (all organic,) and free range chicken breast, all topped with her homemade poppy seed dressing, which is also mostly organic ingredients.  Vicky is a fanatic for the best and most healthy foods.

Here’s a picture of what I picked up at the gym this afternoon.  This is probably one of my all-time most favorite foods.  The combination is just stupendous.  Wish I had a recipe for you.

Vicky’s Red Lentil and Rice Salad with Curried Yogurt Dressing.  Ingredients include brown rice, red lentils, apples, raisins, sunflower seeds, peanuts, unsweetened coconut, nonfat yogurt, grapeseed mayonnaise, natural cane sugar, curry, sesame tahini, ginger, and lemon.  Again almost all organic ingredients.  Nectar of the gods, I’m telling you.

Its funny, because looking at that picture, this is a food I would have REFUSED to even taste in my former life.  And in fact, when I stopped to talk to Vicky tonight there was a man explaining to Vicky that he could not eat the food she was providing on one of her food programs.  It was just too different than what he was used to.  And Vicky nicely tried to explain that it does take time for your taste buds to change, but it was possible.   Hey, look what I did for you.  Googled the ingredients and came up with a recipe that sounds VERY familiar! I’ll probably just keep buying it from Vicky.  That’s a lot of ingredients to deal with.

So.  The fact that I like this dish SO MUCH leads me to my next topic.  I was working on my ‘Do You Use Food to Cope?’ workbook tonight, and was tabulating some information,* and came to the conclusion that I eat a LOT of sweet food.  Are any of you as surprised as I was by that discovery?  I guess I shouldn ‘t be surprised, but I actually was.  And, I discovered that I am not eating enough vegetables.  That is just silly.  Because vegetables are the way to go.   And I like vegetables.  Now, it could be that this is an unusual week, but I don’t think so.  I think I just tend to ‘drift’ towards sweets, and the veggies go bye-bye.  And just so you know, when I say sweets, I am talking about TVP Carrot  Cake, Lo-bars, fruit, custard oatmeal with raisins, that red lentil and rice salad, yogurt with muesli, walnuts, and a few chocolate chips, that kind of thing.  But still.  Too much of a good thing can lead to an unbalanced diet.

* The workbook had me keep a complete food journal for a week, just writing down the food, time, location, and activity.   This was a little different than I have done in the past, which was basically just a list of the foods and the points/calorie count.  It was pretty interesting to review.  As far as location,  I am not going to address that too much, except that little bad habit of taking a snack to bed with me.  Gonna nip that one in the bud!  But I live alone, and I don’t actually have a dining room table any more (that’s my sewing studio,) and I don’t think its terrible that I eat while I am reading or watching something on the computer.  Sometimes I do just eat and stare at my food.  And sometimes I do enjoy it more that way.

Okay, to end this post, here are a couple of amusing shots from tonight’s walk.  It is actually cool outside tonight, and so I had the brilliant idea to take all three dogs for a walk, since Noah doesn’t seem to have as much energy in the evening.  I actually used to do this all the time when I had the three dachshunds and Oliver.  But this is a new combo.  And this was our first attempt.  It went pretty well until I stopped for a photo op.

The end.

Whirlwind Trip

Hi all!  Whew.  I’m glad to be back home safe and sound.  Safe referring specifically to safe food choices.  Safe from all the many many opportunities to make less than stellar food choices.  Sound referring to a routine where I can work out and walk regularly.

I got up early Sunday morning and drove down to the Bay Area to have a picnic for my Dad’s 83rd birthday.  That was what he wanted,  and it was really very fun to do for him.  Just my sister and I, and about 5 or 6 other very special friends of his, people who have taken a special interest in him, and have helped him in the past few years.  It was really nice to be able to serve them a nice lunch and to tell them how much I appreciate their care and love for my dad.  My sister brought some of the food, and I just stopped at Safeway and got a few things to add.  We had some fairly healthy choices.  I had picked out green and yellow tablecloths, and some pretty napkins with sunflowers on them, and when I stopped at a second Safeway for some ice, I saw these sunflowers and couldn’t resist buying them for the table.  And look who visited us, and was nice enough to pose for a picture!

A closer look:

And I am sorry to say, those are the only pictures I took of the picnic…

And guess what I did next?  Guess!  I bet you’ll never guess.  Well, maybe Pubsgal will guess.  I drove over the hill to Santa Cruz to meet Shelley!!!!!  Can you believe it?  SO MUCH FUN to meet a fellow blogger that you enjoy reading and writing to.  And guess  where we met?  GUESS!  I bet you can’t guess.  Well, maybe Lori will guess.  FROYO!!  Of course!  Oh.  And guess what we talked about.  GUESS!  Tired of guessing?  Okay, I bet all of you guessed this one.  We talked about blogging and food and losing weight and exercise.  And fortunately Shelley’s good friend Barbara was there and fortunately Barbara is a very good photographer.

Barbara told us to place our feet just so to give us the most flattering stance.

Do you see that interesting looking thing next to us?  It is a real watermelon!  They were offering fruit carving classes.  Here’s a better look.

Isn’t that fascinating?  Anyway, thanks, Shelley, for taking time out of your busy schedule to spend a little time with me.

I made it back over the hill, and then stayed at a really nice hotel (a Hilton!) for the night.  Do you guys use Hotwire?  I have had really good luck getting very nice hotels at great prices through them.  Always makes me a little nervous clicking on the reservation without knowing exactly where or who the hotel is. But I have never been disappointed with any reservation I’ve made through them.

I’m not gonna give you a blow  by blow report of the food choices I made this weekend.  Some of my choices and plans were great, and some were less than stellar.  Overall, I ate too much.  Darn it.  But now I’m home, and I have some good produce I brought back with me, both from Costco, and from  a local farmstand.  Here’s my evening snack:

Don’t those blackberries look luscious?  They were!

Noah Speaks

RRRRRRUUUUFFFFF!!!! Harro everbody!  So great to get this chance to talk to you.  I’ve got so much to tell you. RRRUUUFFF!!!  RRRUUUFFF!!!

Ooh, I love to bark!

Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!

Loud and long and clear!

I love to Bark!

Ruff! Ruff!  Ruff! Ruff!

So everbody can hear!   (editor’s note:  sung to the tune of ‘I Love to Laugh’ from the movie Mary Poppins)

You all know me as Noah.  The lady named me that because  she thought it sounded noble and dignified and all that.  She didn’t know that my birth name was ‘Barko the Magnificent!’ Yes indeedy!  My birth momma knew what she was doing when she christened me with that name.

Okay, enough about the barking. RRRRUUUUFFF!! So.  Things around here, they have been a’changing.  First of all, I managed to clear the entire mile and a half road of all sticks.  Its slim pickings out there right now.  I guess I got it done just in time, because the lady decided to send me to BOOT CAMP.    Yikes-a-daisies.  That was an experience and a half.  You’ve heard the expression ‘walks softly and carries a big stick?’  Well, that pretty much describes the colonel (editor’s note:  dog trainer Margaret.) Only she didn’t need a big stick (more for me–haha!)  She is so quiet, but somehow I was mysteriously drawn to pay attention to her.  And now I know lots of new tricks that seem to make the lady very happy when I do them.   Of course, once in a while I don’t do them on purpose, just to let her know that “Great Pyrenees are highly intelligent.  They can think and make decisions independent of human direction.”  (editor’s note:  Noah is quoting an article from the magazine, Dog Fancy.)

I know how to sit.

Most of the time  I look away so I can pretend I don’t see that STUPID stupid hand signal that  the colonel told the lady that I knew.  Yes, I know that hand signal means down, but HELLO–“They can think and make decisions independent of human direction.”  I think I’m capable of deciding when and where its a good idea to lay down.

And yes. I can do a ‘down stay.’  Whatever.

The recall:

I think the lady feels sorry for me and tries to find sticks for me.  I appreciate her efforts, but honestly, they are just pitiful.  I don’t think she understands stick technology.  (editor’s note:  Noah likes big heavy sticks with a little branch sticking out for a ‘handle.’)

Sometimes on our evening walks I lag behind and act like I am so tired I can hardly take another step. RRRRRUUUUFFFFF!!!!  MUST.  CONSERVE.  ENERGY. There are marauders out there to guard against.  LIke those two pesky dogs up the way.  Or those other two neighbor dogs who take a walk at 7am. RRRRRUUUUUJFFFFF!!!! Who do they think they are, disturbing the morning peace like that?

But you know, folks.  Life is good here.  And even though I keep up this tough facade, I RRRUUUUVVV my mommy!

(editor’s note:  and even though I complain a lot about Noah’s barking, I love him too.  I was SOOOO proud of him today at dog training.  He was friendly with dogs and people, and he was one of the most accurate, most well-behaved dogs in the class.  Then we went to town and he was well -behaved and friendly again.  Tonight he worked on his beloved ‘toothpick’ [small nylabone that he can only chew on when I am with him] the whole time I was transcribing this post.  That is a new record for being able to work uninterrupted with Noah in the house.)


TVP, Part Deux

Yes, I’m at it again.  I’m nothing if not a determined cook.  You might remember my failed experiment at using TVP to bake with.  But it still seemed like such a good idea.  For those of you who don’t read and memorize every bit of drivel that I write, TVP stands for ‘textured vegetable protein.’  I bought it because it looked interesting, didn’t have any taste of its own, and the stats were pretty darn good–12 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber in 1/4 cup for 80 calories.

So after the peach meatloaf fiasco, I googled ‘baking with TVP,’ and came up with this carrot cake recipe!  It was on a diabetic support forum, and the poor person who came up with the recipe had bought 25 pounds of TVP and was tired of TVP oatmeal.  NO KIDDING!  So I tried the recipe, ground the heck out of that TVP (it looked like dust by the time I was done with it,) followed the recipe to a T, and tasted the batter to check it out.  Can we all say “T stands for TEXTURE?”  I almost threw the whole thing away.  I couldn’t imagine it being improved by baking, and why heat up the house and have an extra dish to wash.  But then I decided it wasn’t sweet enough and didn’t have enough spice.  So I dumped in  about 1/4 cup of agave nectar and added 2 more teaspoons of cinnamon.  EUREKA!  I like this stuff!  I cut it into 10 pieces, which supposedly have 200 calories each (a bit ‘pricey’ for a dessert  in my book.)  But the author said they took it to work for lunch every day.  So the first day I had it for lunch.  It held me all the way ’til dinnertime (4 hours!)  Today I decided to press my luck, and had a piece for breakfast.  Again, it held me for four hours, in spite of a 3 mile run/walk with Noah mid-morning.  That is very impressive to me.

Now, the only thing is, it occurred to me, they process this stuff especially to GIVE it this texture that I am doing my darndest to get rid of by grinding.  Aren’t I just trying to turn it back into soy flour?  Sure enough, I checked the stats on soy flour and they are almost exactly the same.  I will be getting some soy flour to experiment with.  I know there is some info out there on not eating too much soy.  I don’t think I eat that much.  Edemame and tofu a couple times a month is all I can think of.  Since I am still trying to avoid wheat, the soy flour seems like a good alternative.

Here’s the carrot cake.  Plenty of texture, to be sure.  But more like a whole grain type of texture, not like hamburger.  Nice and moist.  If I succeed with the soy flour, I’ll post the recipe.

So.  Lots of interesting conversation in the  comments from  yesterdays post.  Be sure to check them out.   Pubsgal included an interesting link as well.

Exercise and food was really excellent today.  I felt like running a good portion of the time on our three mile walk this morning.  Had a good workout at  the gym, and a nice swim afterwards.  Still noticing that my weight is definitely up, and I kept thinking, ‘I’m gonna weigh myself tomorrow morning.’  And then the thought struck me, knowing my weight number is NOT going to change the way I am eating.  I am making good choices, and I don’t want to eat less.  I only want to stop eating when  I am already full and of course, I want to stop eating when I am anxious/bored/irritated/whatever.  Knowing the number will not change my (good) behavior.  It might make me eat more out of stress/anxiety.  So, the scale continues on sabbatical.

Ooh.  Here’s tonight’s dinner–most excellent!  ‘Fish Taco in a Bowl.’  Just mixed lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro with a little balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing, topped with a piece of red snapper ‘fried’ on medium high with PAM and garlic salt, then squeezed lime juice on at the end.  Yummo.  I kinda wanted another piece of fish.  I had an ear of corn on the side–didn’t think you guys needed to have a picture of corn.  It was most excellent, though.

Back tomorrow with Noah news, I think.