Good Clean Fun

This is good clean fun!  That’s what I thought as I made some pumpkins scones (thanks for the recipe, Suzi!)  The original recipe for these scones was only 87 calories each.  By the time I changed up the recipe and the portion size a bit, they came out to be 135 calories, which is still pretty good for a treat.  And as I thought about what would make them ‘perfect,’ I remembered that a little Fage greek yogurt was a pretty good substitute for the traditional clotted cream served with most scones.  Fun!

I’ve been on quite a cooking/assembling jag lately.  Probably the reaction to being away from my kitchen for a week.

I ran out of the wonderful Justin’s Cocoa Almond Butter, and I thought I could probably recreate it.  Here’s the recipe.  Pretty easy to make yourself, especially if you start with the slivered almonds.  It’s kinda hard to get a nice shot of chocolate almond butter, so here’s a pic of my favorite way to enjoy it–on a nice crisp apple.

After I got home from my trip I had quite a hankering for Mexican food.  Here’s the simplest way I know how to solve that one.  I picked up some tortillas at TJ’s that were only 60 calories each.  Added one ounce of cheese, some salsa and chopped romaine lettuce.  Very satisfying.

I also picked up a bag of TJ’s broccoli slaw.  I followed their recipe ALMOST exactly.  They said to use 1 cup of your favorite dressing.  Wowza.  That could be a lot of calories.  I made this dressing to put on it:  1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt, 1 Tbsp Honey, 1 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp honey mustard, and 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar.  JACKPOT!!  This was so very tasty, and it was good for a few days.  (Main recipe:  1 pkg broccoli slaw, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup walnuts, and 1 apple chopped.)  For 6 servings it is 130 calories.

 THEN, I had bookmarked this recipe for pumpkin butter quite a while ago.  I thought the stats were pretty good (47 calories for 2 Tbsp) and when I compared it to TJ’s commercial pumpkin butter, I was right–theirs is 45 calories for ONE Tbsp.  So I finally set out to make it.  I followed that recipe almost exactly.  Very tasty, and a little goes a long way.  Oh. When I made those pumpkin scones, I didn’t have any canned pumpkin in my cupboard, so I sub’d a smaller amount of the pumpkin butter.

I got a cold or something this week.  Just feeling under the weather, but not bad enough to stop eating evidently.  I was so glad I had stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies, because that is what I crave when I get a cold.  Now that’s a change for the better, isn’t it?  The asian pears and fuji apples that I brought home are just so delicious.  I had a head of cauliflower in there, and that Cauliflower Potato Bake just does the trick for some healthy ‘comfort style’ food for me.

Trader Joe’s was featuring a few new foods, and I succumbed to both of them.  One is frozen sweet potatoes.  I believe they are sweet potato cubes LOL.  And the other was some BBQ pulled chicken breast.  So yummy, and only 140 calories for a 5 ounce serving.   Yummy, but quite zesty, I have to admit.  It would be great over something bland, like a baked potato.  Or like they served it at TJ’s, with the mashed sweet potatoes.

So another thing I’ve been thinking about is how I learned in W.W. that the little changes you make really do count.  Suzi’s pumpkin scone recipe is definitely a lesson in that.  It is a very low fat recipe, which is why the original recipe was only 87 calories (and it was a modest portion size.)  When you start adding a ‘bit of this,’ and a ‘little of that’ for a treat or for extra flavor, that is when the calories start creeping up.  Do that enough times, and you won’t be on a diet any more.

Which brings me to my last point.  I didn’t write a final thought on The Hunger Game.  As I said before, I kind of stopped waiting until I was hungry to eat.  Which points out that there are a lot of reasons I eat besides just to ‘fuel’ my body.  Still, I did learn that it was unnecessary for me to have those little snacks or bits that I would indulge in between meals.  And it is a tool that I plan to continue to use and to strive towards.  I just checked out Georgie’s blog this afternoon, and there was an EXCELLENT article about calorie counting, and her suggestion that you just wait until you are hungry, and then wait 30-60 minutes to eat!  How about that!  Georgie is a registered dietician, and everything she’s ever written has made sense to me.  I hope you’ll check it out if you don’t know her.  She is also a wealth of excellent healthy, low-calorie recipes.  Lately she’s been experimenting with more grain free recipes.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print around here.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  I plan to stay inside with the doggies on my lap.  Very comforting, even if it is a bit difficult to stitch with 45 pounds of dog on your lap.  (I just figured that out!  No wonder I get tired after a while with all three of them on there!)


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!

Layer upon Layer, A Body of Knowledge is Built

How long have I been doing this?  In January 2013, it will be 9 years since I started this last weight loss journey.  NINE YEARS!!  Nine years of reading and researching how to do it, anything and everything about food and nutrition, various types of diet theories (Weight Watchers, paleo, vegetarian, raw food, intuitive eating, low carb, calories in/calories out, whole grain, you get the picture,) the whole psychological component to weight loss, why some people succeed at maintaining weight loss and what and how they do that, oh, and exercise.  I’m sure I left something out.  But you know.  Its a LOT of information.

And the thing is…all of it is useful.  Even the stuff I have decided is not true for me.

Yes, it is frustrating that there is not more definitive information about obesity, its causes and cures, and weight loss maintenance.  But still, we have an awful lot of knowledge to draw upon.  Layer upon layer, I have added all this to the base of my eating and exercise habits.  When I decided to try The Hunger Game, I did not throw away everything I knew about good nutrition and what works in my favor.  If anything, I am using that information more than ever.

It kind of drives me nuts when people who have been doing this a long time figuratively throw their hands up in the air and act like they do not know anything.  We know a LOT.

Part of what I know is that it is hard work to maintain a lower body weight.  It is hard because as you age, something or other goes on in your body (more efficient?  slower metabolism? hormones?) and your body holds onto weight.  Helen reminded me that you don’t need to eat as much when you get older, and the next day I got an article in the mail saying that women who have gone through menopause need 200 calories LESS a day!  Oh my goodness.

It is hard work to maintain a lower body weight if you have previously been very overweight for an extended part of your life.  That is a theory I believe because of the overwhelming amount of objective information available (evidence gathered by various scientists, and also the testimony of many many people who have lost weight and maintained that loss with varying degrees of success.)

I know a LOT about food and nutrition and how the body processes food.  (Oh, side rant:  I know many of you would be more comfortable believing that the body is a machine–that you can input certain food or exercise and you will receive the same results every time.  I’m sorry, but that is simply not true.  The body is closer to a work of art than it is to a machine. Period.  end rant.)  So at my best, I am easily able to choose healthy, balanced whole foods that will keep me satiated for 3-4 hours.

I know a lot about exercise, and what part it plays in weight loss (very little) and weight loss maintenance (a lot.)  I know that the body gets accustomed to the same exercise and gets more efficient at how it processes that exercise (not fair!) so that it is good to continue to challenge your body with exercise by increasing the intensity or by changing the type of exercise periodically.  I know that it is good for your heart and your mind.  I know that it keeps me from becoming stiff as a board, so I keep doing it!

It took a while, but I do understand very well the part that the mind plays in food choices and eating.  I learned that for me, anxiety was the single largest factor in why I overate.  Just learning that was a tremendous step forward in changing my relationship with food.

So I know all this stuff.  I did not discard one bit of it when I decided to WAIT UNTIL I WAS HUNGRY to eat.  Honestly, it just makes sense to me.  Just one more piece of the puzzle.

Hunger and Delicious Food!

Well, I know you all are waiting with baited breath to hear how hungry I am!  The Hunger Game is actually going very well.  What I have found so far is that I don’t really need my afternoon snack with my coffee break.  And I don’t need a snack or dessert after dinner.  Waaaagh.  I already kinda knew this.  So I guess if I really want those things, I will have to eat even less for lunch or dinner.

I normally get up at 6am, and I immediately fix my coffee and breakfast.  So now I’m waiting just a bit to make sure I am hungry.  I made myself a little rule that if I wasn’t hungry in the morning, I wouldn’t wait longer than 2 hours, because I do believe its best to start the day with breakfast.  Anyway, that doesn’t’ seem to be a problem so far.  So if I eat between 6 and 7 am, I really am hungry for an early lunch.  It seems to be working out for me to have a small meal at about 11 and then again about 2.  I’m not getting set on times yet.  I still am waiting until I’m hungry to eat.

And then, so far, I’m really not hungry for a big dinner.  I’ve been having small dinners, like meat and veggies, or just veggies, or some veggies and cottage cheese and fruit.  Sometimes…  I have not even finished my dinner!

So yesterday I was thinking about the container of blueberries that was in the fridge.  I always buy blueberries when they are a good deal because they are supposed to be so healthy for you.  Trouble is, I only like them in baked goods.  So I googled ‘blueberry crumble’ or ‘blueberry cobbler.’  Goodness sake!  All those recipes have 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sugar in them.  I just can’t do that anymore!  So I went through my recipe archive to see if I could adjust one of my recipes.  And this is what I came up with!  SCRUMPTIOUS!

I think I’ll call it Blueberrylicious Pudding Cake.  Its a derivative of my old Apricot Oatmeal Bar recipe, but super-moist because of all the blueberries, and also because I held back some of the dry ingredients for a topping.  Pretty good stats, and enjoyable as a healthy snack, breakfast, or as a dessert.

And last, I thought I’d tell you about my favorite walking shoes this summer–my Montrail Molokini flip flops!  It started out because I was too lazy to put my shoes on for our after-dinner walk.  But then I really really liked walking in them.  I can walk just as fast in them, and even break out in a little run once in a while.  My version of barefoot running!  Because of the way the sole molds to your foot, they really feel supportive.

Its 6:51, and I am hungry!  But I’m going to walk and pray a bit, and then have my LITTLE dinner.  Because I’m still hopeful that I’ll be hungry again, and can have a little bowl of popcorn with The Dog Whisper.

The Hunger Game

In my travels this past weekend, as per usual I made some really great food choices, and some not so good choices.  What bothers me the most, whether at home or traveling, is when I eat to an over-full feeling.  It doesn’t matter if it is healthy food choices or junk food choices.  Feeling over-full makes me uncomfortable on a number of levels.  So I was thinking  about this a lot.

In addition, I had downloaded the sample of this book.  Jen Hatmaker is a very funny Christian blogger (don’t know if she was a blogger before she was an author) who decided to take seven areas of excess and trim them down for seven months.  The first area was food.  Oh my gosh!  Is it possible that someone so fit and trim could possibly think about food even more than I do?

So between reading that book and having plenty of time to think while driving, it made me think could I make a commitment to NOT eat EVER unless I was hungry?  Well, not ever.  Could I do it for a month?  Would I become a famous blogger and get a book and movie deal out of it?  What would be the benefit of this?

As I thought about it, I liked the idea that the benefit would be two-fold.  First, I would get back in touch with my hunger, and might learn how much good food I need to be satiated. The truth is, I eat LOTS of times when I am not hungry.  Actually, most of the time I eat I am not very hungry.  And the second benefit would be that every time I was hungry I would think a bit about the problem of world hunger, and maybe pray a bit, and maybe I might even think of some creative ways I can help with this problem.  It seems embarrassing that I say I am concerned about world hunger and yet I am seldom hungry myself.

The rules would be simple:

  1. You can’t eat until you are truly hungry.  Not that fake hunger that happens sometimes.  So if you feel hungry, you have to wait 20 minutes to one hour before you can eat.  Spend that 20 minutes to an hour thinking about those less fortunate than yourself, and say a prayer for them.
  2. Make an effort to eat slowly.  That way you will be able to recognize when you are getting full–avoiding being overfull!
  3. You don’t have to count calories.  There is no particular diet plan.  Just the same mostly whole food healthy choices that you are used to.  And a few treats.
  4. And no getting on the scale during the month (a bad number tends to make me give up, and a good number tends to make me want to celebrate with you-know-what.)
  5. Weight loss is not the main goal.  However, it would be a much desired side effect.  That will depend entirely upon your food choices when you get hungry.
  6. Try your hardest to NOT eat in the middle of the night.  Even though you truly think you are hungry.  Go back to bed!

So I’ve tried it for two days.  Because its embarrassing to put something out there and FAIL AGAIN.  But if you don’t put it out there, there’s practically zero chance that you will succeed.  I felt this way about Weight Watchers the first couple of weeks I went.  Didn’t think there was much chance I would stick with it.  But a glimmer of hope.

It was not easy to wait until I was hungry.  But, as Jerry Seinfeld pointed out, another appetite is always on the way.  So when I started to get anxious, I remembered that eventually I would get hungry and I would get to eat again!  Gah!  Talk about first world problems.

Well, this will be an interesting experiment.  Please feel free to join me, or to just voice your opinion or your experiences.  I imagine I will be talking about this frequently in the days to come.