A Grain of Truth

Haha.  I love a good title.  That’s about all I got at this time of night, except the wanderings of a food-obsessed mind.

Lately, I really have been thinking a lot about grains.  I like them.  A long time ago I stopped eating pretty much anything made with refined (white) wheat on a regular basis (the occasional treat notwithstanding,) and then I decided to stop eating wheat, pretty much.  Then I read Wheat Belly, and even though I didn’t believe everything he said, there is so much bad press out there on the inter webs about the evils of grains that  I tried to limit my grain intake.  Actually, according to the USDA, I still DO limit my grain intake.  Egads, who eats 6-11 servings of grain a day?

Anyway, I am trying to stop thinking of grains as evil, and something that I need to feel bad about if I eat more than one serving a day!  I think most days I have 2 servings of whole grains, and once in a while I will have 3.  I like grains in the morning, and I like popcorn at night once or twice a week.

I also was thinking about why I like to try vegan recipes.  It actually has nothing to do with veganism, but it does seem that they like to use alternative flours.  And that is a good thing, I think.  It just seems healthy to eat a wide variety of grains, instead of having everything in your life revolve around wheat.  NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT LOL.  My latest flour that I am enjoying is the brown rice flour in baked goods.

So when I was on vacation (and consuming more grains than usual, thank you to the THREE bakeries in the small town of Sisters,) I was very interested when I got this email with a link to an article titled “Should You Avoid Grains?”  Its a pretty well-written article, and has some very good points.  The author is a former body builder who is also a registered dietician.  Of special interest to me was a reference to a scientific article titled “Wheat Belly–An Analysis of Selected Statements.”  [Okay, disclaimer here.  I just noticed–this article seems to be written very scientifically, but it is for a publication called “Cereal Foods World”???]  Well, check it out.  It still seems to be a pretty fair-minded article.

I know there is a lot a testimony out there about it being easier to maintain weight loss if you will eliminate grains.  MOST of the testimony comes from people who have lost weight in the last year or two.  As I like to say these days–come back in five years and talk to me.

Back to Normal

Back to normal–whatever that is, huh?  After any trip I am always anxious to get back to normal.  That seems to always include a stop at Trader Joe’s to stock up on dairy and vegetables, making a batch of homemade yogurt, and cleaning the house.  How does a house get dirty while you are gone?  Oh.  Three little doggies…

Anyway, it was a wonderful fall trip.  Full of color and inspiration, and that was before I ever got to the quilting retreat!  So here’s my rather long and picture-full report.  And then I can truly get ‘back to normal.’

First stop was just an overnight stay in Klamath Falls.  I didn’t want to try the 9 1/2 hour drive to Sisters in one day.  (Although I guess I thought that would be okay for the drive home…)  Hotwire helped me make this reservation.  I can’t say enough good about my experience with Hotwire.  I called them because I had made a reservation and then they sent me an email with a better deal.  So even though their reservations are ‘no backsides,’ they honored that and gave me a $30 refund.  Which I applied to this place.  It was a very luxurious resort, only about 3 miles off the main drag.  I thought it would be a perfect place  if I was a writer and wanted a place to hide out and write for a while!

The next morning as I drove towards Sisters, I crossed a body of water and noticed the name was ‘Pelican Bay.’  Hmmm, isn’t that funny how they choose to name something?’ (thinking that Pelicans were sea birds, and this was an inland lake.)  Just then I noticed some big birds out of the corner of my eye!  Fortunately there was a place to pull over, and I grabbed my camera and jumped out of the car.  I was so EXCITED when I saw the first  three pelicans in this picture.  They were so much bigger and brighter than the ocean pelicans I am used to seeing!

And I was beyond excited when this PLATOON of pelicans floated into view!  So glad that I stopped to enjoy the view.  So many times I just keep on driving.

I had done map quests to Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods to stock up on food for the week.  And so I stopped at Costco, and it turns out that was the only place I needed to stop.  I got one of those whole cooked chickens, a bag of salad with all the fixings, a loaf of their good bread, and a giant container of grapes.  Turns out this was a non-cooking trip.  So all that stuff was just right for grab and go meals.

The little cottage I rented (ha!  It was bigger than my ‘house,’) was beautiful and perfect for two people.  I was alone until Sunday night when my best friend arrived to spend a couple of days with me.

First night I was signed up for a lecture with Gwen Marston.  She is such a talented artist, and so funny and down to earth.  Her hand quilting  is beautiful, and has influenced how I am quilting my ‘housetop quilts.’

I had a free day in between, and I took advantage of that to explore the town of Sisters on foot.  I got in plenty of walking exercise.

I was inspired by Gwen’s work, and took out a little pack of hand-dyed fabric I had bought at the previous quilt show, and started a little quilt.

Later in the week I actually started hand-quilting on it, using Gwen’s liberated quilting method!

And finally the retreat started!  Here is an example of the work of Sue Spargo, the other teacher.  Her work is over-the-top spectacular, filled with every kind of handwork imaginable.

close up of some of the stitching:

I was quite unsure of myself at the beginning of this workshop.  All I knew for sure was that I wanted to use some deep magenta and green wool that I had bought for the project.  So I ended up spending a day and a half just piecing the top.

NO.  Those are not yellow clouds or mushrooms.  I ended up using this next picture that I took of the scene right outside the lodge where the class was held.  Lovely shapes of drying yarrow.  The quilt will look better when I fill in with stems and foliage and maybe some birds (I hope!)

I did get the hang of appliqué, and I finally got around to learning some new stitches the last day.  Very fun!  It was also fun to work with wool and silk, and velvet, some fabric that is considered difficult to work with.  Sue had a lot of experience in using those fabrics.

My friend arrived Sunday night, and so of course we went out shopping on Monday.  So fun to be able to talk in person with a friend.  Much better than the telephone!  I had to check out the local yarn shop, just for Shelley!

I bought three skeins of an old favorite, Koigu yarns, and started a ‘linen stitch’ scarf.  I totally LOVE the way the colors change constantly, and this is a fun and easy stitch to do.

Soon enough, the week was over, and I was on my way home.  I drove home in one day through rain and snow and sunshine.  And beautiful views of Oregon, one of my most favorite states.

It was a week full of creativity of every type, beautiful color, a little too much good food, not quite enough exercise, and plenty of great conversation, with just enough relaxation mixed in.

And now…back to normal.




Wow, its been a while since I posted.  I don’t know why, except that I didn’t have much to say.  My trip to Sisters is coming up this week, and I find myself obsessed about the food I am going to eat, more so than usual.  Not sure what that’s about.

I do have a general plan in mind.  I checked, and there is a Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods within a few miles of each other in Bend, which is the town right before I get to Sisters.  So I can stop there and stock up on groceries for the week.  I have a general plan to have two dinners out, and one lunch out on the way up.  The retreat serves lunch, and I usually don’t have a problem with that.  I take a protein bar with me, and if I don’t care for what they are serving, I can usually pick a bit out, and supplement with the protein bar.  So I don’t know exactly what I’m obsessed about.  Except the usual, of wanting to eat a lot because I am on vacation, and NOT wanting to eat a lot because I don’t want to gain. Oh, and then there’s that whole thing about ‘I’m not supposed to eat until I’m hungry.’

Have to be honest with you.  I am only being about 70% compliant with that now.  I’ve had a little non-specific anxiety, and just ate early.  Not bad choices or anything.  Just eating when I wasn’t hungry.  Still, I feel I have learned a lot from this experiment.  Like, I really am fine eating a little less food.  And I think it is a very good habit in general.  So I plan to continue to pay attention to that, and to try to stick with it as well as I can.

I am VERY excited about this trip.  The two teachers for the quilt workshop really do beautiful work.  I have my collection of fabrics ready to go.  Plus I have plenty of free time planned.  And after the workshop/retreat is over, my best friend is coming over to Sisters and we will just have fun hanging out for a few days.

Today was laundry day, so I brought in my suitcases, and am packing as I fold my laundry!

I want to take my bike with me, as I think it will be so fun to bike around Sisters to get some exercise in.  I hope I don’t chicken out.  Its a little nerve-wracking to think about that bike rack on the back of the car, just held on by straps.

Oh, here’s a bit of news.  I went back to my weights workouts last week.  It felt so good to get back to it.  I worked out on Friday and Sunday.  But then Monday through Wednesday my knee, and all my joints just really ached.  I don’t really think its due to the weights workout, but it did make me a little hesitant to continue.  I started a ‘knee journal,’ to monitor my pain level, what I eat, what meds I take, and what exercise I do, to see if I can figure out what makes it better or worse.  I’ve got a feeling that it is just random arthritis, and might have been exacerbated by the change in the weather.  I am also mulling over the possibility of swimming through the winter, because I do miss it already!

Bananas!, an Oops, and Planning Ahead

I went to the grocery store the other day and they had bananas on sale 3 pounds for a dollar.  That seemed like a good deal, so I picked out the over-ripe ones and put them in my basket.  When I got to the check stand, the checker remarked that they looked a little past prime, and I happily went into my explanation of banana cubes.  “How bout 50 cents?” she replied.  Yeehaw!  A chance to try out a few new recipe ideas before they even became banana cubes!

That vegan banana nut muffin I got from Vicky the other day was delicious.  I remembered that I had bought some brown rice flour a while ago, and I wanted to give these a try. I googled ‘vegan banana muffins,’ and after comparing recipes, this one was the most innocent.  Some had twice the amount of sugar and oil in them!  I followed this recipe exactly, except I (don’t you hate it when I say ‘exactly’ and then proceed to list how I DIDN’T exactly,)  EXCEPT I used 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup granulated splenda. I used 1 cup of spelt flour and 1 cup of brown rice flour, and I used coconut oil.  The calorie count is pretty high (240c/muffin,) mostly owing to the large amount of walnuts in them (yumm.)  And they are still WAY too sweet.  I’m gonna have to quiz Vicky about the ratio of sugar to flour in her recipe. (edited to add:  I checked with Vicky and she was nice enough to share her recipe with me.  Interesting, because I thought it tasted “richer” than the recipe I made, but it does indeed have less sugar AND less oil in it, and it has some almond milk in it as well.)

The other banana recipe was just to try making my banana frozen yogurt idea in my real ice cream maker, and to get down the right ratio of banana to yogurt.  This was absolutely perfect for me.  It is the just right combo to make a sweet/tart frozen yogurt.  Much healthier than the store version, I’m sure.  And a little easier for me to control myself on volume and toppings…

The oops was yesterday.  First day since I started The Hunger Game 10 days ago that I ate when I was not hungry. Disappointing.  I also ate some not-so-stellar choices while I was out and about with a friend.  Oh well.  We are not going to be perfect, as I read recently somewhere.  And I am very glad that I was able to get right back on track today.  Started out a little rocky, as I ate two of those banana muffins for breakfast.  But then I didn’t eat until 1pm, so that was okay after all.

And Sharon asked the other day if I plan ahead or just wait until I get hungry to figure out what I am going to eat.  I’m pretty much doing what I did before I started this.  I am usually pretty well-stocked with quite a few healthy food choices.  I batch cook, so many times I have whole meals pre-cooked.  I am trying to pay attention to what my body actually needs, so sometimes my choices will change from what I originally thought I was going to eat.

Some examples of pre-planning:

  • Today I took an already-cooked salmon fillet out of the freezer to have in a salmon salad tonight (presuming I am hungry tonight.)  Since that will be a heavier dinner, I had a lighter lunch when I got hungry.  I had a smaller bowl of cottage cheese/pear spread/walnuts, and some roasted butternut squash.  Yumm on the butternut squash.  I got a package of it already cut up at Costco.  I really love butternut squash, but I really really hate cutting it up, so this is a great find for me.  (BTW, butternut squash people, can I just enjoy the wonderful buttery nutty taste of the squash all by itself?  Do you have to include that recipe that adds apples, butter, honey, and pecans to the squash on the lid?)
  • A couple of days ago, I had just gotten a LOT of veggies at the store, and I finally remembered to pick up a package of that shredded cabbage, so I wanted to make a batch of my fried rice.  I took a piece of pre-cooked chicken and about 4 ounces of pre-cooked shrimp out of the freezer in the morning.  BTW, that cabbage worked wonderfully well in this recipe.  You don’t know where the rice leaves off and the cabbage starts.  Such a taste treat.  Anyway, even though this is a recipe that requires a little more chopping and prep time, I just waited until I got hungry to start preparing it.  It really only takes about half an hour.  That’s not too long to be hungry, is it?  And now, the next time I get hungry, there are three pre-portioned servings of fried rice just waiting for me!

Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty

Its been over a week since I started The Hunger Game, and I am very pleased with myself.  Its not so hard to wait until you are hungry.  Food tastes better when you are hungry.  And real hunger is not such a bad feeling.  Its not that horrible, low-blood-sugar hunger that I have feared.  And I have not experienced that for years now.  That is what helps me to make good choices in what I am going to eat most of the time.

Over the weekend I was going over my food in my mind and trying to add the calories up (I can’t make myself stop!)  And I realized that I could pretty easily write them down in my kindle.  So I thought I’d share what and when I ate for three days of The Hunger Game.

Its been over a week now, and its going very well.  The biggest difference is in my snacking, both planned and unplanned.  I am not having any snack with my afternoon coffee, and many times I eat ‘dinner’ late, and there is no hunger afterward (or time) so I do not have dessert.  And then there’s all the times during the day when I might grab a handful of walnuts.  None of that going on either.  Overall, it seems like I’m eating less.  I don’t know if it will make any change in my weight though.  We’ll have to wait a month to see that!  Which, BTW.  I laughed at myself when I checked my schedule to see when the month would be over.  The last week of The Hunger Game will be spent in Sisters, Oregon,   on a trip I have been looking forward to for months.  It will be a good challenge to NOT eat when I am not hungry, especially on the long drive.  I don’t think it will be so much of an issue while I am there, because I will still be able to have treats or eat out.  I’ll just have to wait until I’m hungry.  I am taking a workshop with two great teachers, and was so looking forward to meeting a long-time blog reader-friend.  Just yesterday she called and said her work schedule was not going to allow her to come.  I am so disappointed!  I was so looking forward to meeting you, L., and I hope that we will be able to plan a meeting in the future sometime!

So here’s my food log:


  • 6am–coffee
  • 8am–English Muffin French toast (200c)
  • 11am–honeycrisp apple and Justin’s cocoa almond butter (300c)
  • 2:30pm–cube steak w/tomatoes and boiled potato (300c)
  • 4p-6:30p–Swim
  • 7p–Vicky’s vegan banana nut muffin (250c)
  • 8p–microwave carrots, roasted beets (150c)
  • 12a–walnuts (200c)
  • TOTAL 1400 calories


  • 6:30am–coffee
  • 7:30am–yogurt w/muesli, walnuts, and ch. chips (300c)
  • 10am–apple w/string cheese  (200c)
  • 12–Vicky’s taco salad  (350c)
  • 4pm–coffee, blueberry pudding cake (300c)
  • 8pm–tomatoes, popcorn w/2 sq. sugar free chocolate (250c)
  • TOTAL  1400 calories


  • 6am–coffee
  • 7am–flax cake with walnuts, peach topping (350c)
  • 10am–1/4 quest bar
  • 12:30pm–3/4 quest bar (175c)
  • 1:30p–froyo (400c)
  • 5:30p–4 oz chicken breast, corn on the cob, tomato (300c)
  • 9pm–yogurt/honey/walnuts (125c), Vicky’s nutty nibbie cookie (75c)
  • TOTAL  1425 calories

Now.  The calories are approximations.  But I did try to be honest, and I erred on the side of rounding up instead of rounding down.  Its really interesting that they are almost exactly the same total each day.  I’m not going to continue to do this.  I want to see what happens when I eat only when I am hungry and make healthy choices the majority of the time.

Did the observant among you notice that I said I was swimming from 4-6:30pm on Friday?  Yes, that’s right!  I reached my goal of swimming 2.4 miles on Friday!!!!!  I was beginning to think that I was not going to make this goal.  But with a little encouragement from Shelley (“it’d be a nice way to end September,”) and a not-crowded pool on Friday afternoon, I decided to go for it!  I know for sure it is not physically as hard as running for that amount of time.  It is almost more of a mental challenge (I’m cold, I’m hungry, I HAVE TO PEE LOL).  Anyway, I’m not much of a goal-setter.  But it has been fun to set goals and then actually reach them.  My next goal will be to get back to the weights and work on that 100 pound bench press.

A few food notes:

  • English muffin french toast:  I use Thomas’s Whole Grain English muffins, split in two. I mix 1 egg, 1/4 cup almond breeze, and 1/4 cup eggbeaters, with a bit of cinnamon, splenda, and vanilla.  Let the muffins soak for a bit in the liquid, then cook in a pan sprayed with pam.  Top with spray butter, cinnamon splenda, and SF syrup.  I think this is my most ‘processed food’ meal that I eat.  So delicious and filling.  Then I save the egg mixture, and the next day use it to make two flax cakes!
  • Microwave carrots:  I LOVE carrots fixed this way.  Just wash carrots (don’t peel) and cut into approximately equal sizes.  Put in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle with Mrs. Dash and a little salt, and top with a bit of lite butter.  Microwave for 2-3 minutes and stir to evenly coat with melted butter and spices.  Microwave for another 2 minutes until soft.
  • The flax cake with walnuts and peach topping:  I made the flax cake recipe, but left the blueberries out, and just pressed a few chopped walnuts into the top.  The peach topping I made the same way I make my pear spread.  It worked wonderfully, and I will be doing this with fruit in the future!
  • The froyo on Sunday was not planned…I went to the gym after church, and was so disappointed that the pool was closed.  It was miserably hot, the air conditioning in my car is STILL not fixed, and I WAS hungry.  So I headed to froyo.  The shop in town doesn’t really have good frozen yogurt (2nd time I tried) so I know I would have felt better if I had just gone home and had something healthier.  Oh well…

And last, I want to include a few links that I’ve run across.  They are all written by low-carbers (which I am not,) but they apply universally to all types of eaters.  Loretta left this link to a podcast in the comments on my last post.  It is long, but this woman speaks so well about how the body processes food.  She is not a scientist, but it seems she has done a ton of research.  Everything she said made sense.  And she talked a LOT about “women of a certain age.”  She was coming from the angle of low-carb eating, but everything she said applied to all people interested in losing weight and increasing health.  It is a really long podcast.  But much more interesting and informative than the ‘movie of the week.’  (do they still make those?)

This was a very interesting post, written by a young doctor, about “The Weight Loss Conundrum.”  Again, a low-carber, but again, it applies to everyone.

And lastly, this link, about intuitive or mindful eating.  I think what I am doing now might be my version of mindful eating.