Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Love Your Inner Thighs

Last night my husband told me "I love your inner thighs."   I won't go into the details of how this comment came up (it's a little personal), but it surprised me none-the-less because in the 20-plus years that we've known each other he has never commented on my thighs.

My husband is a bit of a boob-dude, so most of his body compliments to me through the years have been directed to my breasts.  

Being that I'm a 32D I've pretty much always had breast men attracted to me, and like most naturally endowed women I know, I've got the ass and thighs to go with the boobs.

I've always kind of figured that when men like breasts (the real ones that is), they've always pretty much know that they have to put up with the butt and thighs as being part of the bargain.  

As I told a rather ample-bosomed friend of mine years ago who was complaining about her body, "you've got the kind of body women hate when it's theirs, but the kind that men just love" (and believe me, men went crazy for this girl because she was built like Christina Hendrickson).

Now my big ass has never really bothered me that much.   Yeah, there have been times when I would've liked a smaller one, but ever since Jennifer Lopez glamorized big booties, I've begun to appreciated my curvy bottom.

But, my thighs, particularly my inner thighs, have always been the main focus on my liposuction fantasies. 

Girls, I'm sure you know what I mean.   Let's be real, I know I'm not the only woman in the world to stand in front of a full-length mirror and think "now if I could only get a little liposuction here. . . . "

I've been fantasizing about having my inner thighs liposuctioned for over 30 years now, because my inner thighs have always been one of my major "problem" areas whenever I gain weight.   It's the first place the weight goes to, and the last place I seem to lose it from.  

So that you know what I'm talking about here they are:

They're not exactly thunder-thighs, but they certainly don't look like Michelle Pfeiffer's either.   BTW, that's a chair leg in my bathroom that appears to be hanging down between my legs (I never professed to be anything more than a rank amateur photographer).

So while I've spent most of my life loathing my thighs, it turns out that my husband has actually appreciated them.  

It doesn't mean I'll give up on the lipo fantasy, but I guess I shouldn't be so critical of myself either.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We're being Manipulated

This is a very good article on how advertising and marketing manipulates us into buying stuff.The whole article is very informative, so if you have the time, I recommend reading the whole thing.

The bottom line, advertising and marketing gets us to buy stuff we don't need until we're in debt, as well as convincing us that products will do for us what we want them to do (even if they won't).

I've always preached that if a product is marketed that it will help you lose weight or be healthy, then the chances are it will actually do just the opposite..

Let's get real, if something actually will make you thin, it doesn't have to be marketed that way. You don't see the tag line "the skinny food!!" on a bag of carrots because no there's no need for it. But a bag of processed, chemical filled junk does need marketing to seduce you to buy it by appealing to your emotions and desires.

Don't fall for it.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

I'll Believe it When I See It ---NOT!!!

Campbell's goes back on it's promise to reduce sodium in it's soups because they didn't sell.     Marion Nestle has some good commentary on the turn around here.   Quotable quote:

Make no mistake: food companies are not social service agencies. When it comes to a commitment to public health, the bottom line is all that counts—and has to be, given the way Wall Street works.

This is the reason why we can't depend on mass-produced food if we want to be thin or healthy.   Mass-produced food has to appeal to the masses, and, unfortunately, the masses want food that is pretty much unhealthy and fattening.  

Again, losing weight starts in the kitchen.   If you want to lose weight, you have to take control of your own food.    

Friday, July 22, 2011

Resting Metabolic Rate--Why Losing Weight after 45 is a Bitch

Following an exchange I had with a commentator in a previous post, I thought I should blog a little bit about Resting Metabolic Rate  (RMR), and the closely related Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR.   In a nutshell, it's the calories you burn at rest.   Even if you stay in bed all day doing nothing, your body still burns calories. 

Essentially, RMR and BMR are the base of calories you can eat in a day and not gain weight.   They are the bottom line, if we do absolutely no moving in a day, amount of calories we can consume without gaining any weight.

Now, here's a sad fact, as we get older, RMR and BMR drops, i.e., the minimum calories we burn in a day decreases.   

Let me explain.  There are four factors that go into BMR and RMR calculations, your weight, your age, your gender and your height.     You can find quite a few calculators on the web including here and here.

For example, I am a 5'2" 50 year-old, woman who weighs 130 pounds.  My BMR is 1,276 calories and my RMR is 1,163 calories.  

Now, take the same height and weight and sex but pretend I'm 20 years old-- my BMR is 1,416 calories a day and my RMR is 1,313 calories a day.   That's approximately 150 calories fewer calories I can consume in a day, at rest and not gain weight.

What does this mean?  It means if I do nothing to my regular diet and exercise program, I will gain weight as I get older for no other reason then I got older and my body just burns approximately 10% fewer calories on it's own.

Remember that it only takes 3,500 calories to gain a pound, so burning 150 fewer calories a day means a new pound gained every 24 days.

So, lesson number one in losing weight is that as we age we have to constantly adjust our daily calorie consumption lower JUST TO NOT GAIN WEIGHT.  

Metabolism slow down is just one of those natural things about aging, you can't do anything about it (although we can take steps to not make it worse).   The commentor is indeed correct that not moving as much as we age is also a factor in weight gain, but slowing metabolism as we age is a fact that we have to also deal with in confronting weight gain.  

Additionally, while we're at it, I thought I should bring up the impact that weight loss has on RMR and BMR.   Remember, WEIGHT is also factored into calculating both.

So, assume I weighed 160 pounds, not 130.    At my current height and age, my BMR would be 1,406 and my RMR would be 1,299.   

By dropping 30 pounds, my RMR goes down by 136 calories per day.

Lesson number two for the day--this is why you can never go back to your old eating habits.   Once you drop weight, you actually burn fewer calories in a day, so you have to adjust your overall calorie consumption down to fit with your new weight.   If you go back to your old eating habits, you'll go back to your old weight because that's where you'll reach caloric stasis again.

Third lesson, if you've hit a plateau in your weight loss, it means that because your calories in now equal calories out, you are not going to lose further weight until you further reduce calories and/or find new ways to burn more calories in a day.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

What You Eat Matters

There's a really interesting article in the New York Times about a study linking the kinds of food eaten to weight loss and gain.

Unfortunately, the lead of the article seems to imply that calories don't matter.  If you read the article a bit more carefully, you would see that they do, because, the foods that lead to weight gain are high caloric and those that do not lead to weight gain are naturally less caloric.

So what foods lead to weight gain?  According to the article:

The foods that contributed to the greatest weight gain were not surprising. French fries led the list: Increased consumption of this food alone was linked to an average weight gain of 3.4 pounds in each four-year period. Other important contributors were potato chips (1.7 pounds), sugar-sweetened drinks (1 pound), red meats and processed meats (0.95 and 0.93 pound, respectively), other forms of potatoes (0.57 pound), sweets and desserts (0.41 pound), refined grains (0.39 pound), other fried foods (0.32 pound), 100-percent fruit juice (0.31 pound) and butter (0.3 pound).    
And the foods that lead to weight loss? 
Also not too surprising were most of the foods that resulted in weight loss or no gain when consumed in greater amounts during the study: fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Compared with those who gained the most weight, participants in the Nurses’ Health Study who lost weight consumed 3.1 more servings of vegetables each day
Additionally, the study said that dairy had a neutral effect on weight gain/loss and those who ate the most yogurt and nuts experienced the most weight loss.  Also interesting was that metabolism slows with the consumption of refined grains, but stayed the same with the consumption of whole grains. 

As I indicated above, I think calories do matter.   This study basically proves that if you eat high calorie foods, you'll eat more to feel sated, and gain weight.   If you want to avoid gaining weight (or lose it) you need to fill up on low-calorie fruits and vegetables.

Period.  End of story.        

Losing Weight is A Bitch

This morning I stepped on the scale and for the first time since the beginning of April I'm finally back under 130 pounds--129.8.  

As I blogged here I managed to put on five pounds over the course of a month and a half.   In the beginning of April I was 129 pounds, but by the end of May I was 134 pounds.

Five pounds for me is a full dress/pants size, so all my clothes were snug.   I've learned from past experience that an extra five pounds, if not attended to, quickly turns into 10, and ten pounds is a hell of a lot harder to lose then five.  

So, I rolled back my eating and amped up my exercise, and watched as the scale remained firmly at 134 pounds through the end of June.   But, I've learned from the past not to let this discourage me.   As I've explained before, when you're in weight gain mode, you're obviously eating too many calories, so your initial calorie cutback/more exercise efforts generally just stops the weight gain.  

In other words, I was making progress because, although I wasn't losing weight, I wasn't gaining it as well.

So, after the July 4 weekend, I ramped up my efforts even more.   I increased my raw food percentage to cut calories even further (eating raw fruits and vegetables generally fills you up while cutting calories), and starting juicing whenever I could.   

The scale then started to move downward.    Last week I was able to juice until dinner three days, and was even able to complete an entire day of juice fasting. 

I lost 2 pounds last week--the most I've lost in a week since May when I started trying to lose weight again. 

This week, thus far, I've juiced until dinner twice.   Today I'm having a smoothie for breakfast but plan to juice for lunch and have a salad for dinner.

I've lost the weight I put on from the beginning of April, but I'm trying to get down to around 125 pounds which is really were I like to be.

I have to say that it has not been easy.  Losing weight is definitely a bitch.  It takes a lot of effort and you have to keep at it for a long time to see any results. 

And, I'm applying lessons learned from past weight loss experience.

First, fast weight off, is fast weight on.   Rather than launching into a huge, initial calorie cut-back, I rolled back calories gradually.  If you initially cut back calories too fast, my body seems to revolt and then does anything it can to try to put that weight back on again.

Second, don't get discouraged by a stuck scale.  If you're no longer gaining weight, you're moving in the right direction.

Third, don't let yourself get hungry.  Cut calories, but don't let yourself get hungry.  

Fourth, eat more raw fruits and vegetables.   You'll reduce calories while filling yourself up.

Fifth, move more.   Exercise is great, but sometimes is just all the extra moving that counts.  Park farther away and walk, take that extra trip up the stairs instead of letting things pile up until you go up, take the stairs instead of the elevator.     

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Personal Set-Backs Ctd.

Previously I posted as to how a shoulder injury was impacting my yoga practice.  It's been rather frustrating for me since I can't practice any yoga asanas which put pressure on my shoulder including bakasana and chatturanga.  I can't even practice something as basic as down-ward facing dog.

Well, I had an MRI done, and it showed no actual damage.   What it did show, however, is a severe bursitis brought on by my bursa rubbing up against the inside of my shoulder bones.   It seems that because of the structure of my shoulder, the cavity in which the bursa moves is very narrow, and because the bursa is now irritated and enlarged, the space is even narrower.    

My doctor gave me a cortisone shot into the irritated bursa, and is recommending I continue to put absolutely no pressure on the shoulder until at least September, and then only gradually reintroduce asanas.  

If that doesn't work, I may need surgery to widen the area in my shoulder in which the bursa moves.

Needless to say that while I'm pleased to have dodged surgery (for now), I'm not pleased that I have to continue with an abbreviated, abridged yoga practice for the next several months. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Out and About

Today I was out and about for most of the day, teaching yoga, going to a doctor's appointment, etc., and around noon, I was somewhat hungry.

Now, I've been juicing on and off for the last week and a half, so when I spotted a Robek's Franchise, I thought "perfect" and pulled in.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Robeks it's a franchise that specializes in fresh fruit  juices and smoothies.    There's a multitude of them around Fairfield county, and whenever I'm out and about and finding myself a bit peckish, I pull in for a refuel.

As I always do, I surveyed the menu board with some suspicion.   They have all these smoothie concoctions which while I'm sure are probably delish (judging from the multitudes who buy them), are probably more calorie laden then I need (when are we finally going to get those calorie counts posted on menus?)

So, I ordered what I always order at Robeks, their "Green-V" which is nothing more then freshly squeezed carrot, spinach and celery juices (and comes in at 96 calories for 12 ounces according the the Robek's nutritional chart).  Since I juiced for breakfast, that kept me on the juicing track for half a day thus far.   

Monday, July 18, 2011

Creamy Cauliflower Mac

The New York Times' Mark Bittman has this great recipe that sneaks cauliflower into a Mac and Cheese recipe.

I am always, always, always trying to find ways to get my daughter to eat vegetables--any vegetables, and the ONLY WAY I have succeeded thus far, is by stealth.  

Let me tell you how bad my daughter is, not only will she not eat the vegetables, she used to throw tantrums if they even showed up on her plate (refusing to eat whatever else was on the plate because of the contamination).  It took a long time to break her of that habit, but she will still remove the vegetables (quietly) from her plate if they show up.   I guess the next step is getting her to leave the vegetables on her plate and then into her mouth.

So, stealth is the order of the day when it comes to getting her to eat her veggies, (I've discovered that boiled, then pureed veggies blend seamlessly into a wide variety of meals) so next time I see cauliflower at that farmer's market I'm picking some up to make Bittman's recipe. 

BTW, what do you think about Kraft adding freeze-dried cauliflower powder into its macaroni and cheese?   I'm not a big fan of Kraft, but I am thinking of possibly keeping some pureed cauliflower in the freezer to utilize whenever I make a boxed version of Macaroni and cheese for my daughter.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Can A Feminist Diet?

I read an intriguing piece this morning by a woman, a recovering anorexic, who identified herself a feminist.   She asked the provocative question:  Can a Feminist Diet?

Now, I've always considered myself a bit of a feminist, so I found the question intriguing.   As the author notes, there are many in the feminist movement who view dieting as part of the "patriarchal bargain" i.e., an individual woman’s decision to accept gender rules that disadvantage women-as-a-group, in exchange for whatever power she can wrest from the system. 

In other words, dieting is something that women do as individuals that in the end harms women as whole.   Women, in this argument, are supposed to look good for men, so we diet to fit that gender rule and in the end hurt women as a whole.

She also discussed her ambivalence regarding dieting in light of her struggles with anorexia.   In the end she decides to shun mirrors for a year, and revamp eating and exercise habits to a healthy moderation.   She was going to judge her success by her behaviors.

Now I, of course, believe  you can diet and still be a feminist.    I've always thought the whole "patriarchal bargain" argument was rather weak.  After all, wearing a bra is also supposed to be part of the patriarchal bargain (hence the burning), and I don't know about you, but I've always found that men prefer me with my bra off.

Now here's what I think.  Dieting to lose weight to look good for others is bad. Dieting to be healthy and feel good about one's self is good.

Being fat is about more than just not being attractive to others. Eating the wrong foods and not moving and exercising enough can lead to serious health problems. In other words being fat is no different then smoking--it's extremely bad for your health (one of the reasons why I have a problem with the whole "Fat Acceptance" movement).   

So, being a feminist and dieting are not incompatible if the goal in dieting is to be healthy.

BTW, I also believe that short term dieting is always the road to failure. You have to make life-long changes to your diet and exercise habits to lose weight and keep it off.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ahimsa Ctd.

Last September, I blogged about the yogic concept of Ahimsa, and related it back to a cousin of mine who was very ill.    Essentially, in practicing yoga one is supposed to practice ahimsa or non-violence.

Usually, when people first learn of ahimsa the tendency is to think it only applies in relation to others or animals, but the concept is much broader.    First, you must practice non-violence to yourself, because any violence you inflict on yourself, causes suffering in others.

I bring this up today because the cousin I wrote about last September died late last night. 

As I explained in my previous post, this cousin had a long history of doing some serious violence to herself.    She had been bulimic, anorexic, and addicted to drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.

It was probably the weakening of her body from this self-inflicted violence which led to her developing lung cancer, which in turn led to her death at age 44.

Through the years I had seen the suffering caused in others around her by her eating disorders and addictions, but death is so much worse.   Her mother, my Aunt, is my mother's sister.   My aunt has just suffered a tragedy that no mother should have to live through--the death of a child.  My mother naturally feels compassion for her sister's suffering, so she, in turn is suffering.

My cousin left behind two very young children who had to endure not only their mother's addictions, but her long illness and now the trauma of being left without a mother.

Our decisions as to what we eat affects more than our weight.   It effects our health.  Being overweight is more then just not liking the way you look in a mirror, it can lead to any number of afflictions that can shorten our lives, or, even worse, lead to us being incapacitated.   Both would cause suffering in those around us who love us.

So, even if you never intend to practice yoga in the broader sense, at least think about practicing ahimsa -- do not let your eating habits cause violence to yourself.  

Those around you will be happier for it.

From the "I'll Believe when I See it" Files

Fast Food Restaurant chains are promising to make their kids' menus healthier.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Keeping It all In Perspective

I preach that if you want to be thin, the absolute first step you have to take is eat healthy.  After that you have to cut calories and exercise.   There just isn't any other way to do it. 

However, there is the point  of taking "eating healthy" too far.   Believe it or not, there's even a medical term for it called orhorexia nervosa.  

Eating healthy means cleaning your own house up and getting the worst of the processed foods out of your diet.  It means making better choices as to where you eat and what you choose to eat when you're not eating at home.  

But, letting it take over your life to the point that some shrink thinks you qualify as having a mental illness on par with anorexia is probably taking it a bit too far.  

You have to find balance.

Home is of course the perfect place to re-balance after a binge (and we all deserve a binge from time to time).   It's easy to keep to a healthy eating regime at home if no other food options are available.

You won't eat potato chips or ice cream as a mid-night snack if there are none in the house to begin with.   If you're truly hungry, and there's only fruit and nuts to snack on, then guess what?  You'll eat fruit and nuts.  

You also have more control over what goes into your meals if you stock a healthy pantry.   If salad ingredients and a home made salad dressing are all available in your refrigerator, you're likely to eat a salad.   If you have the ingredients to make smoothies for breakfast, you'll make smoothies.

I mention all this because I'm in the process of once again, cleaning up my diet and eating more raw foods.   I go through this every summer as part of what's now become my annual eating regime.

As the days lengthen and fresh, local produce becomes available I start increasing the percentage of raw, uncooked fruits and vegetables that make up my diet over the course of the week.    I'm probably eating 70-75% raw this week, by next week I may even push that up to 80-85% raw.

I'm also trying to reduce overall calories I'm eating daily to lose the "Winter weight" I inevitably seem to put on every year (and this year a little more so).   I've been gradually replacing some meals with juices and smoothies, and will probably launch into a couple juice until dinner days by next week.   That will likely lead to trying to fit an entire day of juice fasting at some point and then maybe a two day juice fast if I'm lucky.

I may even try a week of eating entirely raw to both detox and lose weight.

Now I've read about and know people who keep completely raw all year long.   From my experience, I have to say that I see the benefits of eating raw both to my weight and to my overall well-being.

But, I prefer the more balanced approach.   Eating as raw as I can all year round, with occasional all raw periods works best for me.

It also keeps me sane.

BTW, if you're interested in learning more about eating raw I recommend The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose.

You can read about this book and order it here.  

I don't agree with the "completely" raw philosophy (I also don't agree with the eating of processed "raw" food products or not combining fruits and vegetables), but I think Rose does an excellent job explaining the health benefits of eating raw as well as providing a sensible way to detox and go raw.   Rose, like me, believes you have to make the changes gradually for them to stick.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Old Friends and New Juice Fasts

I've been perusing an old friend.   Steve Meyerowitz's book Juice Fasting and Detoxification, was hugely inspiring to me on my weight loss journey, and I regularly refer back to it. 

After I read this book, I bought my first juicer and started to juicing.   

Since then, I've bought several other books on juice fasting, but Meyerwitz's book always seems to be the one I go back to.  

I did, however, recently find a new website that has a lot of great information on detoxing and juice fasting.  It's called "Greenlemonade" and you can find it here.    It's a real good source of information if you just want to learn about juice fasting, or want to refresh your memory (something it seems I need to do more and more frequently as I age).

You can find good information on the basics of juice fasting here  at the Greenlemonade website..    If you've never juice fasted before, or just want to learn a bit more about it, I recommend checking out some of the links including what to eat to prepare for a juice fast.

Now for my experience.   I have to admit that I did not dive head first into juice fasting.    I was more of a toe in the water kind of gal.  I was so addicted to food and eating that I did not think it was possible for me to go even a day without eating. 

I first experimented with just doing juice for breakfast or lunch, then breakfast and lunch and finally breakfast, lunch and dinner.   

It turns out that I might have done myself a favor going it slow.   If you leap into cleansing too fast, you can have some pretty ugly detoxing symptoms.  

I also have to admit that I've never been able to do more than a three day juice fast.  Not because I don't want to go longer, but with my life, it's a tough thing to do.   You pretty much need a somewhat stress free period of time fast, and stress free periods don't come often around here.

In fact, when I have been able to accomplish my longer fasts it was because I started early, then headed up to the New Age Health spa to complete it.  It's a wonderful spa in New York state with a fantastic juice fasting program.   Generally, I'd prepare to fast the week before and actually start the fast on Thursday night.   I head up to the spa Friday, fast until Sunday and then come home.   While up there I relax (my husband takes the kids for the weekend), use the Sauna, have a colonic and come back feeling fantastic.  I'd love to go up and stay longer (and fast longer), but that just isn't in the cards any time soon.

So, at home I'm generally only doing one or two day fasts.

I also like to just juice until dinner for up to a week at a time.   I have juice for breakfast and lunch, then have a vegan (preferably as raw as possible) meal for dinner.   This is also a fantastic way to ease yourself into more hard core juice fasting.   I've also done fasts were I start out juicing until dinner then do a full scale juice fast for a day or two.

I'm writing about juice fasting now because it's Summer and hot as hell outside.   I find that juice fasting (and reducing food consumption in general) is just easier when it's hot outside.  I'm usually just to hot to feel hungry.

Time to start juice fasting.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Well Duh!!!

I always love it when studies are done to prove the obvious.  Like this one which found that the rising rate of obesity among kids is due to poor eating and exercise habits and not genetics. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Kid Quest--Trying New Stuff

I am always trying to get my kids to eat better which is a tough thing to do in a world in which they're surrounded by junk food ads, crap food in the supermarket, and nutritionally devoid kiddie menus (I have a girl-friend who thinks that kiddie menus are the sign of a civilization in decline, and I have to agree). 

That said, I do try to get them to eat at least marginally better.   First, I limit the junk food they can have in the house, and when I do allow it I stick to the "better class of crap" philosophy.   I.e., if they have to eat pre-packaged, boxed junk at least let it be organic pre-packaged, boxed junk.   I don't think that Annie's Organic Mac N Cheese is all that much of an improvement over Kraft, but at least it is somewhat of an improvement.

That said, I am always trying to find ways for my kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Particularly my daughter who regards anything that actually came off a tree or plant as inherently disgusting.  

A couple of years ago I discovered that both kids will eat ice pops I make from fresh fruit juice.   I run watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, etc. through my juicer, pour the juice into one of those little plastic Popsicle makers, let freeze and Viola I have a snack that both kids will eat with no artificial colors, sugar or flavors.   I also make jello out of fresh fruit juice by adding unflavored gelatin.  

Today I'm going to try something new.  I'm going to make a vegetable snack for the kids.   Last week I bought a food dehydrator, and have been trawling the Internet for recipe ideas.    Yesterday I found a recipe for salt-and-vinegar "raw" potato chips.   You toss thinly sliced potato wedges with oil, apple cider vinegar and salt then dehydrate them for 15-24 hours in the dehydrator.  

If I can get the kids to eat this healthier version of potato chips, I've scored again.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Psyching Myself Raw

I try to eat as raw vegan as possible throughout the year, but have to admit that mid-winter in cold, damp New England it's pretty hard.    But, as we move back into summer with a huge abundance of local fruits and vegetables, I'm psyching myself up to get more raw again.   I'm probably at about 50-60% raw/vegan for the week right now, and I'd like to get the percentage up to at least 85-90% or even 100%.

I've been trawling the Internet for inspiration as well as new recipes.   I read this blog over at HuffPo.   The lady lost 45 pounds in 6 months by going raw/vegan.   That's pretty inspiring. 

I also found some interesting recipes over at this blog and this blog.

And, best of all, last week I finally bought a food dehydrator that will let me experiment with a whole new range of raw food recipes.  

Thus far I've only used my new dehydrator. to dry surplus herbs from my garden.   I've got so much dry oregano, chives and tarragon at this point that I'm thinking giving away bottles of home-grown, home-dried herbs as Christmas presents this year.   Usually, if I can't give away my excess herbs, they wind up on the compost pile.

But, while dried herbs are nice, I'm looking forward to making raw kale chips, and other raw food recipes.

I don't see myself as ever going completely raw/vegan, but I do know that whenever I up my "raw percentage" significantly or even just go completely raw/vegan for a while, the weight falls off.

So, here's to psyching myself raw!!   

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Going Meatless--It Ain't Easy

Since I had several comments regarding the difficulty in getting the men-folk in our lives to go meatless for even just a couple of meals a week, I thought I'd relate again how I did it.

First of all, it's kind of like quitting smoking.  If you try to make them go cold turkey, you get a back-lash. 

Instead, I recommend a slow and steady stealth approach.  The first step is to just reduce the amount of meat in a meal and up the vegetables and other ingredients.

A typical family dinner in my house used to consist of pasta with 1 pound of sausage in it.  First I reduced the sausage to 3/4 of a pound, adding more pasta and veggies, then 1/2 pound and now I often make it with 1/4 pound or no sausage at all.

If you're making a roast, meat-loaf, burgers, chili etc. do the same thing.  If you originally started with 2 pounds of ground meat for the family burger night, reduce to 1 3/4 pounds and add more veggies, etc., then 1 1/2 pounds etc.  

You can easily substitute more beans for meat in chili.   Meat-loaf is great because you can hide a lot of veggies in it (great if you have difficult kids).   I saute up a bunch of carrots, celery and onions, puree it well (if my daughter even suspects that a vegetable is present she won't eat it), then add it to the meat along with whole-wheat bread-crumbs.

Another trick is to add substances with "meat-like" textures.  Filling up the void left by the meat with Portabello mushrooms in a pasta dish gives them the feel of meat without the negative health consequences.  Same thing with beans.   Tofu is also a good substitute, although I must admit that I'm not much of a tofu fan and don't cook with it myself.

I also like to make my "almost meat-less meals."   These meals have meat but just a touch of it.    Although it sounds counter-intuitive, bacon or pancetta is great for this.   Saute just a wee bit of bacon in a pan, add some steamed green beans or asparagus and pasta, and the whole dish has a bacon flavor.

That's not to say that I didn't have difficulties, and some pretty big battles.   I can't tell you some of the knock down, drag out fights I had over my husband over eating fish (which he doesn't regard as "meat.")   But, by standing my ground in getting the whole family to eat better, I eventually won the war. 

My husband last night ate a meal of Cod, with zucchini, tomatoes, red onions and brown rice with no complaints.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Meatless Mondays.

I've chronicled previously about the intra-family meat discord in my home.  

To recap, I was raised in a large Italian family and my Italian immigrant grandmother did most of the cooking.   That meant that we eat mostly peasant food and meat was pretty much a rarity in our house.  We'd maybe get a leg of lamb on Easter, and Sunday dinner always meant "meat sauce," but at least two or three meals a week didn't have meat, eggs or fish in them.  Even when meat was served, it was more of a side-dish.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a wealthy Jewish family that was pretty Americanized.   Meat was on the menu every night, and was usually the central focus of the meal.

As an example, this weekend my family spent the weekend at my in-laws beach-front home.  In one meal, my mother-in-law served a) grilled loin of pork, 2) grilled rack of lamb and 3) a bread stuffed with sausage and pepperoni. The only reason there were any vegetables on the table was that I went to a local produce stand and bought the ingredients for a tomato salad and some local corn which we grilled.

Despite 20 years of trying to wean my husband off the meat, he still gives me a hard time any time a meal doesn't have meat in it.  We're talking about a dude who eats meat at every meal he eats out.  I'm talking breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I bring this up because Mark Bittman has written a pretty thoughtful piece on Meatless Mondays.   In it, he points out that not only can humans get protein from vegetable sources, but that those who are not so "meat dependent" tend to be healthier.

He says:
T. Colin Campbell, author of “The China Study” (a long-term study linking animal-based diets to chronic disease), insists that our protein quota can be met very nicely by a whole food, plant-based diet, and that it’s when we exceed the recommended amount (usually by eating a disproportionate amount of animal-based foods) that we can begin to see adverse effects, like increased risk of heart and kidney diseases, cancer and osteoporosis. Campbell suggests that in the past century we’ve had such a reverence for protein that we’ve mindlessly focused on the idea that we need as much as we can get. Consequently, we consume too much, at least twice as much as we need, and most of that from animal products.
Bittman also goes into a little Diet for a Small Planet spin and points out how our meat addiction is bad for the planet as well.  (BTW, I read DFASP in college and it still has relevance today.)

After years of cooking to try to make my husband happy (and putting on a lot of weight in the process) I now try to go meatless 2 to three days a week.  My husband isn't all that happy (although his doctor is), but I'm trying to do good for us and for the planet.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Beach Daze

Sorry for not posting, but I'm actually at the Jersey shore for the long weekend.  I'm been too busy taking long beach walks, reading, napping, cooking, etc. to blog.  

Be back soon.