Archive for November, 2009

The day after Thanksgiving

Friday, November 27th, 2009

I just responded to one comment, but several other people asked if I was going to write a blog entry on or after Thanksgiving. The last of our company (two adult cousins and their three kids ages 11 to 15) just rolled out heading to a college football game and leaving behind various leftovers. We ended up with fifteeen family members at dinner yesterday afternoon and everyone brought something. I weighed 1.4 pounds less than my "final" goal weight yesterday morning, ate quite heartily the rest of the day and didn't even think of weighing myself this morning.

Today I made turkey omelets with the kids for breakfast, shared one last piece of apple pie with my wife and now will resume our usual routine. We'll spend several hours at our health club this afternoon and go back on our diets. I don't mind at all that I eat as much as I did yesterday; it was a great family event with one cousin doing magic tricks for the five kids that were there at the time, lots of horseplay (I wrestled with a fifteen-year-old cousin; he had no idea that I had wrestled in high school and college ~fifty years ago), five different pies and a gum ball sheet cake for dessert. I won't use this as an excuse to stay off my diet or to change my lifestyle plan. Bet you I'll be back at goal weight by Monday.

Holidays and for family and fun; enjoy them.

What to eat before Thanksgiving (and other holidays)

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Like most of us I tend to chow down a bit at Thanksgiving (and other holidays), sometimes more than a bit. This year we're hosting and will have fifteen family members coming to our house for dinner. We'll eat a fairly traditional meal: turkey and stuffing, gravy, yams and cranberries, pumpkin pie. So the question is what to do in the week beforehand.

I've been to the gym daily (burning about 650 calories on a recumbent bike) and really stayed on my diet. This morning I was actually below my current goal weight, but we had planned to eat dinner at our favorite local Thai restaurant. So this evening I picked a dish that my wife often eats, garlic pepper chicken. It has more veggies than almost anything else on the menu and I had eaten lightly earlier in the day. We skipped dessert and came home where my spouse made one of her wonderful concoctions, in this case a mixture of non-fat vanilla yogurt with one T. of pumpkin puree, a packet of Splenda and some cinnamon and cloves.  We felt virtuous, but also decided that tomorrow will be a vegetarian day. We need to use up some cabbage and carrots, but I'm sure I can find a recipe in Mark Bittman's wonderful book, "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian."

Then I can approach the holiday with a clean conscience and a very healthy appetite.

Our Veggies

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Last summer we got into container gardening. Our larger, raised-bed garden gets so overgrown with weeds, it's hard, with our schedules, to find enough time to grown anything except raspberries and a few herbs.  So we purchased three EarthBoxes, bought a trellis for one and filled all three with potting mix from Miracle-Gro and added a strip of fertilzer (ultra Vigoro's all Purpose Plant Food 12-5-7). They have a screen one inserts into the box to leave a reservoir for water at the bottom and a watering tube you fill through.

We grew field greens, tomatoes and peppers of many sorts (from green bell peppers to habenaros) . The latter were a surprise addition to what were termed Caribbean peppers, but were clearly habenaros. I faithfully watered the three boxes through their plastic watering tubes and waited.

It was a wonderful summer of fresh veggies, clearly free of any pesticides. Their taste reminded me of the Farmers market veggies or those I could buy when I was growing up in Wisconsin sixty+ years ago. We had an abundance of salad green, more tomatoes than we could cope with and lots of fresh peppers. As best I can tell the boxes are reusable, so we saved them for next season and will try another assortment of choices.  I'd strongly recommend the EarthBox idea if you have limited time and/or room to garden. We had a bigger raised bed garden in Texas twelve years ago, but then owned an acre and a third and, before we retired, seemed to have more time. Now, with a small yard on a hillside and, for some reason, less time to garden, we put our container gardens on a back patio and consider the experiment a roaring success.

Organic or not?

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

I've been debating this for some time. When we buy from one of our Farmers' Market vendors, I can be reasonably confident I'm getting food that most would term organic, but when we go to the local supermarket I have some choices that are and some that aren't. A good friend who is a little further along the pathway to healthy eating than we are told us we should avoid pesticide exposure by buying the organic variety of apples, berries (when possible), leafy greens and basically anything you consume all of. Melons and bananas have a thick enough skin so she thinks they don’t have to be organic.

I believe her, but sometimes it's tough to find organic berries here in Fort Collins and sometimes I think just by eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed food I've made enough of a change for now. Reading books written by a number of the healthy-living gurus, I note that several of them agree with me.

I mentioned in a previous blog what we've done about meat choices, but obviously I still need to cogitate on the organic fruit and veggie issue some more. Organic is presumably good, for instance, if it helps me avoid pesticide exposure, but I'm not always sure if things labeled that way really meet the criteria that I think of when I use the term. Is it worth the extra expense or not? What do you think?

Yes, we do eat meat...some meat

Monday, November 9th, 2009

I've thought about this a lot as our diet has shifted over the past few years and especially over the past few months. I do believe we should eat more vegetables and fruits and less meat, at least less red meat. We both like fish and chicken, but a steak tempts me once in a while. So let me tell you what we have done in this regard. First, when I eat red meat, I eat much smaller portions. I used to love to order a 16 oz. steak, now I'm much more like to order an 8 oz. portion and actually rarely do so when we eat out.

What I did, roughly two years ago was to buy a buffalo, actually a bison, of course, but I tend to use the terms interchangeably. I put together a consortium of four families and bought 380 lbs. of boneless, skinless buffalo from the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota. Three of the four families loved the bison meat and want to order more. We've got a replacement for the one family that was less content. The meat is very lean as the animals are grass-fed and grass-finished. We've subsequently found a family in our immediate area that raises bison and does not corn finish the animals (there apparently is another group in our area that does corn finish theirs). Our 95 lbs. was about half steaks and other cuts, half chopped bison. The chopped is dry enough so we've usually made it as pasta sauce; it's great that way. The other cuts have been wonderful, although we had to put the one piece of ribs (it had small bones) into a slow cooker to get it tender.

Subsequently we bought a young sheep from the Hi Ho Sheep Farm after trying some chops. They're usually at one of our local farmers' markets and the meat is "organic.' We ended up with roughly seventy-five lbs. and split that with another family. The lamb has also been superb and we'll buy from them again.

Recently we found a Colorado firm that offers grass-fed, grass-finished Beefmaster beef and bought a small amount, about 18 lbs. as 1/2 of a family pack. I'm very concerned about eating hamburger from the supermarket. I've read several articles about one hamburger containing meat from multiple sites in a number of countries. This way I think we'll only get hamburger from one animal, certainly from one herd. I absolutely loved their meat and we'll buy more eventually, if I can put together a large enough group so the price of the meat is reasonable.