Discovery of the day: Back on the BAS train

Spent the weekend feeling mostly lousy, which means I ate what my stomach told me to. Which was mostly soup. I finally felt up for a salad Sunday afternoon, and today I'm pretty much back in the routine.

Except for this headache. But hopefuly that won't stop me from staying on the BAS train.

In other news, next week I'll be finishing up my third month as a flexitarian. I haven't lost any weight this month, indicating that exercise will now have to come into the picture. Ick.

Gotta go take some Ibuprofen....



Discovery of the day: The virus among us

Apparently I've been hit by the gastrointestinal virus that felled my ex during our recent trip to the heartland. Luckily I'm not as hard-hit, but I am hit enough to feel like crap, necessitating a stay in bed flat on my back with laptop today.

I pretty much lost my appetite this morning but it seems to be coming back this eve. Unfortunately, a BAS doesn't even sound remotely appetizing so I'm winging it.

If I'm lucky, I may still get a lb of weight loss out of it. There has to be a pony in here somewhere....




Discovery of the day: Surviving the heartland

I did it! I got home from the trip Tuesday and the scale registered a mere +3 lbs yesterday morning! And today it was back where it should be.

Can't ask for more than that, especially since the only vegetation I managed to scrounge consisted of salad-based airplane meals, an iceberg lettuce salad, and mushrooms & onions on my pizza. Fruit was a little easier to come by, thankfully.

I'm still trying to overcome "travel brain" (I'm a travel wuss, I know that) but by tomorrow I should be back on my regular posting schedule.

I know you're breathless with anticipation.



Discovery of the day: How to survive travel

I'm heading out tomorrow to the heartland, and I'm trying to devise a strategy that will allow me to not lose any ground while in the comfort food center of the universe.

I'll take fruit (apples, bananas) in my carry-on for snackage. Maybe some edamame. I might take a salad in a disposable container for lunch on Saturday since we'll be at the airport. We'll be eating dinner en route so all I can do there is minimize the damage.

I'll try to get past the complimentary biscuits & gravy at the hotel Sunday morning and instead hit the grocery store to get more fruit, or maybe even score a prepped fruit salad. I don't think the hotel room will have a fridge so that rules out stocking up on BAS fixins. I'll be with the family Sunday and Monday so I'm doubtful I'll be able to stick to BAS for lunch.

I'm already scheduled to have Easter dinner with the family and I'm sure there will be a big feed after the funeral on Monday. I'll just go with it. I can't be there and not get me some of that comfort food, you know. And my son & I fly home Tuesday morning.

So even though I might not get as much greenery as I'd like, I should be able to get home before I backslide too far. Hopefully Tuesday night I'll have a positive report.



Discovery of the day: Quinoa

Can't remember if I mentioned this before and I'm too lazy to go back and check, but my boyfriend introduced me to quinoa a few weeks back. It's a nifty little grain that stacks up quite well in the nutrition department and tastes darned good to boot.

I cooked some up the other night to put on salads and I'm liking it. It cooks up like rice, 2:1 water:quinoa, but it only take 10 mins or so. Right now I'm seeing it as more of a side dish than a base for a stir fry, but stay tuned.

What I really want to do is cook up a mess of it, throw a chunk of butter and some black pepper on top, and eat it straight out of the pan standing over the sink.

But that would be bad, right?



Discovery of the day: Kringle Management

If you do ever manage to find yourself in possession of a Danish kringle, take my advice: Eat it as quickly as you can in as few days as possible. I heard once (true or not, I don't care) that one's body can only absorb so many calories a day; the rest are passed right through. So eating, say, 10,000 calories of kringle in one day is much better for one's ass than eating 1000 calories/day for 10 days.

So go for it! But note that this trick only works for the occasional splurge once in awhile. And that doesn't mean "only" once a week.

My ex father-in-law passed away today after a long illness. I'll be flying back to the heartland this weekend for the funeral. I can guarantee that there will be kringle. And Infusino's thin-crust pizza. One thing the ex's family does to perfection is a great midwestern family feed.

Wish me luck.

p.s. After I killed the last sliver of kringle this eve and was wadding up the wrapper to toss, I discovered the nutritional label. An entire almond kringle contains less than 3000 calories. What a bargain, eh? My boyfriend, son, and I ate it in just over 48 hours. Burp!



Discovery of the day: The bacchanalia continues

In accordance with my scant Irish heritage, I did produce a fine potato, leek, and cabbage soup (with just a little bacon) and a lovely bit of Irish soda bread for St. Pat's Day dinner. And I ate lots. Nary a leaf of romaine in sight. Not even iceberg! Burp.

To add to the general chaos, yesterday my ex gave me a beautiful fresh torture device known as a Danish almond kringle from a recent trip back to the heartland. I didn't even get it all the way home before ripping off a chunk. While driving. That's soul food, baby. Of course I had to have more for dessert because that stuff just doesn't keep, you know. Burp.

But on the up side, I did go out for a walk at lunch time. I was at the apex -- the farthest possible point from the office -- when it started to drizzle. Sigh... no good deed goes unpunished, I suppose. I'm just glad it didn't start pouring rain before I got back. Chilly and damp, sure, but it was still a good 45 min. walk. I'll take it.



Discovery of the day: Mid-March madness

Ah, the Ides! On Sunday I made mini-meatcakes (aka meat cupcakes, aka private meatloaves) using Mark Bittman's recipe and piped the instant mashed potatoes on top. The meal was completed by "beef" gravy from a jar, some roasted baby carrots, and iceberg quarters with bottled ranch dressing.

I know the roasted carrots was a cheat but I couldn't face frozen mixed veggies, even heated up. All in all, it was pretty darned tasty. I did learn that hot, gummy instant mashed potatoes do not pipe well. And as a former recovering grocery store cake decorator, I've piped a lot of cupcakes in my time, so that's saying something.

Let's just say that between the popcorn and M&Ms we bought at the movies Sat. afternoon and the Ides, I didn't have the most ass-friendly weekend. Did I mention the coconut brown rice pudding I made for dessert Sunday? The scale was not my friend this morning although the change could have been much worse.

And tonight is St. Pat's Day, which cries for potatoes and cabbage and soda bread, oh my! I'm not doing corned beef, but the 1% Irish in my DNA demands the rest.

I suppose between that and the fact that it's PMS week again, I won't be making much progress this week either. But at least I can try to minimize the damage.



Discovery of the day: What not to eat

Yesterday evening was a blur: had to leave work and drive straight to my son's spring concert, then from there to the W_Mart to buy a present for a birthday party he's attending this evening. We finally got home after 7 pm, present (and a box of Girl Scout cookies) in hand.

He'd already eaten at his dad's house. I'd saved some of my x-lrg BAS from lunch and eaten it right before I left work so I wasn't feeling the need to have another salad. But about 8 pm, I started to feel a bit peckish. I tried a banana first. It lasted about 15 minutes. Then a handful of edamame. Then a Thin Mint. And a handful of roasted chickpeas. Yum.

By that time it was after 9 pm. I decided I had to go to bed before I did something stupid.

Lesson learned: Eat a BAS when I get home, even if it's not a full-size one. And hide the cookies!

Saturday marks the Ides of Meatloaf. I decided early in the week that I am going to loosen the controls a bit for weekend dinners, since even the best of intentions can't make 14 salads a week palatable. So at some point this weekend we will be sitting down to meatloaf, mashed potatoes from a box, and frozen mixed vegetables.

Laugh if you must, but I will bet you money that every last scrap of food will disappear.



Discovery of the day: Smokey goodness at my fingertips

I did it: I bought a bottle of Liquid Smoke.

It used to frighten the crap out of me, that little dark bottle filled with mysterious chemicals that made me crave bacon. Then at some point I saw something on FoodTV -- probably by Alton Brown -- about how to make your own, and I wasn't skeered anymore.

Bottom line is that the last few bean-heavy dishes I've made have lacked a certain... something. I tried adding more salt and that helped a little, but there was still no depth. I can't add a lot of heat if my son is going to eat it. I could throw in a ham bone or a little sausage (and I'm not above that) or I could deploy the dark bottle of hickory smoke goodness.

I added a little to the leftover Hoppin' John and it helped a little. But if it was added at the get-go, I think it would make a big difference.

Stay tuned....



Discovery of the day: Broccoli and cheese... sometimes

I thought it was a brilliant idea: my son loves broccoli w/cheese and he loves cheese quesadillas. So why not put broccoli in the quesadilla?

I even ate a piece to make sure it didn't suck. He ate part of a couple of 1/8ths and said... blech. It took all the willpower I had not to polish off the remaining 3/4. As it was, I probably ate most of the 1/4 I attributed to him. And there's still a full 1/2 sitting in the fridge mocking me. C'mon! Flour tortilla, monterey jack cheese, and chopped broccoli; what's not to love?

Oh well. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I should probably throw out the leftovers before I succumb.



Discovery of the day: Time heals most wounds

It's been a few weeks and I've recovered from my disappointment enough to think that I may have to give the falafel another go. That, and I learned that the fancy-pants grocery store is charging $2.00 each for their ready-to-reheat falafel. Get out!

A quick search yielded a very promising recipe on epicurious.com with lots of helpful tips in the reviews. Now comes the hard part: do I make it as written first, or do I start winging it right from the get-go?

Yeah, I know. I need to do it as written first. Maybe this weekend.

In other news, there's not much other news, other than I hate the time change. I don't care what anyone says, my body thinks it's getting up an hour earlier and it doesn't appreciate it. Weight keeps bouncing around 10 lbs. I'm not walking. Think those last two facts are related? Shut up.

Sure would like to see another lb go away....

p.s. After I posted this, I did go out for a 10 min walk around the block. It was either that or do a face-plant into my keyboard. Hopefully it will get me through the next 2 hours at work.



Discovery of the day: Bringin' the flava

Or trying to, anyway.

One thing I'm discovering I don't appreciate about many of the veggie-friendly recipes I find online is that they taste... flat. Take, for example, the Hoppin' John -- black-eye peas and rice -- that I made last night. I'm not familiar with the original recipe so I just made the recipe for the vegetarian version as written. Seemed simple enough: simmer black-eye peas and rice in water w/oregano, thyme, and bay, then add a bunch of sauteed onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic, and the like.

It was... underwhelming. Not sure if I under-salted (probably), or whether it was because I left out all of the spicy stuff (cayenne, jalapeƱos) in deference to my son's tastes, but it was pretty bland.

I looked up a classic version and found it calls for simmering beans and rice with a ham bone or ham hocks. That alone tells me I probably way under-salted! I don't mind using ham as a seasoning, so if I can find a (small) ham bone I might do that next time. Or maybe just fry up a couple slices of bacon and saute the vegs in that, then crumble the bacon in at the last minute. And add a little cayenne.

The larger issue is that I've run into this type of result before. What I don't know is A) whether I'm finding just-plain-blah recipes (most of the ones I've gotten are posted by just plain folks to vegetarian-type sites) or whether I am just so used to massive amounts of salt and concentrated meat flavors that I can't appreciate "the clean simplicity of the food itself." Read: Bor-ring!

As with most things, the truth probably lies in between. But you bet your bippy I'm getting me some smoked pork flava into that recipe next time, one way or another.



Discovery of the day: I can resist! It's not futile!

Today's good news is that I did walk down to get coffee this afternoon, even though it was completely overcast and chilly. The bad news is that a package of devil treats -- a 2-pack of Starbuck's dark chocolate-covered graham crackers -- leaped into my hand. But the other good news is that they've been sitting unopened on my desk for oven an hour. And I'm down to the last 40 minutes left of my workday.

I called my boyfriend on the walk back to rat myself out and promise him one, automatically limiting myself to eating one at the most. Then, when I got back to my desk, I peeled and ate the pink grapefruit I brought for my afternoon snack.

You'll be surprised to hear that a big-ass pink grapefruit and a tall decaf with soymilk in one's stomach cuts the craving for dark chocolate graham crackers by quite a bit.

So the devil treats will go back into my purse, to be shared with my boyfriend later this evening.

Happy Friday!



Discovery of the day: Give me a minute, wouldya?

My attitude seems to be back on track even though there has been no further weight loss. I just keep reminding myself that losing 10 lbs in 2 months is acceptable. And it is just two months, as of this week.

Family dinners continue to be a thorn in my side, but I just have to keep hacking away until I get it figured out. I bought some tempeh last week. I want to experiment with it but I probably ought to test drive it on my boyfriend before I subject my son to it. Maybe this weekend.

I could'a/should'a gone walking at lunch but I wimped out because the sun wasn't out, it was chilly, and I'd been chilly all day. Instead, I parked at one end of the strip mall and walked all the way to the other end to get coffee. Hey, it's a start. I'm hoping that once warmer weather settles in I'll be able to establish a habit that will carry me through next winter.

Tonight is "gotta get the kid a haircut" night, so we'll hit the strip mall haircut factory then go to Taco Del Mar after. No cooking. Yay!



Discovery of the day: Bananas are banana-riffic!

After posting yesterday's somewhat excessive monologue about my bp, I just so happened to read an article talking about that very thing. Fancy that! I'm too lazy to go find it again and quote proper sources, but the upshot is that apparently it's not just sodium that affects salt-sensitive hypertension; rather, it's the sodium/potassium balance. And if one's sodium levels were high, one might effect a change by upping one's potassium level. And one might do that by, say, eating bananas! And what do I eat at least one of every day? Bananas!

So I think I have figured out a possible explanation for A) my hypertension and B) its apparent demise.

To be fair, lots of FFV (fresh fruits & veggies) have lots of potassium. And since I ate hardly any FFV before my conversion to flexitarianism (sad, but true) and I eat practically nothing else now, I think it's a very plausible scenario.

But you know what? I don't care. My hypertension seems to no longer be an issue. I am a happy gal.



Discovery of the day: Things is always better'n they seem

After listening to all of my whining yesterday, my boyfriend helped me out of my funk by suggesting adding fruit to my BAS. Last night I did a BAS topped with mango, orange, cucumber, cannellini beans, toasted sliced almonds, and a sherry vinegar/orange juice vinaigrette. I'm doing something similar today, although I have peas and avocado instead of cucumber.

It's a small change, but it seems to be enough to get my head back in the game.

The scale is back to where I expected today (whew!) and there's been another benefit that I keep forgetting to mention: my blood pressure seems to have dropped nearly 20 points in the past two months! Hard to believe, as I've only lost 10 lbs and I wasn't extremely overweight to begin with, maybe ~10%-15%. But it's true!

This is very good news, as my bp has crept up slowly but steadily over the past decade or so to something around 135/84. I was starting to get concerned, especially last fall when I was at the doc and the nurse read my bp as something horrific like 171/92. Even worse, I got the same reading at home that evening, so I couldn't blame it on the stress of the hospital visit. Which I didn't, really, since it had never bothered me before.

I was able to determine that that spike was likely caused by the large amounts (2400 mg) of ibuprofen I had been taking after my wisdom tooth extraction a few weeks prior. My doc didn't believe me, but I did find multiple sources online (yes, credible ones!) that said Vit I, as I call it, can cause (or contribute to) hypertension. I quit the Vit I and my bp went from the scary 150/? average back down to the usual 135/84. Proof enough in my book.

Even so, 135/84 was just too high, especially since I don't have any other scary medical issues. The only thing was that at my last physical, my doc mentioned that my sodium was high, but I didn't think much about that.

Until I changed what I ate. Last week, on a whim, I decided to take my bp. I hadn't done it for some months -- I didn't want to know. Imagine my surprise when, at the end of a long day, after climbing the stairs and hauling around laundry baskets, my bp reading was 118/78! And the next morning, it was like 108/72. Yay!

I am relieved, yet curious. The 10 lb loss can't be it -- it's not that dramatic. My current theory is that I'm prone to salt-sensitive hypertension. Whatever the cause, I'll take it!

And pass the romaine, please.



Discovery of the day: Flagging enthusiasm alert!

I knew this was going to rear its ugly head eventually, but I was hoping it would wait until I lost another 5 lbs or so.

I fear I'm "losin' my religion." Sometime over the weekend it started getting... difficult to stay on track.

Friday night was OK. I got a thin crust cheese pizza for my son and I ate my BAS before starting in on it. Saturday evening was tough. The three of us went out for Thai food since our dinner date w/friends was postponed. I thought I'd eat a BAS before going but blew it off. I did order a vegetarian Thai salad of some sort, and while tasty, there wasn't much of it. I ended up eating a good amount Pad Thai and some of the (delicious) garlic pork. And I succumbed to the sticky rice w/Thai custard for dessert, although we split one order between the three of us so that wasn't as damaging as it could have been.

Sunday morning I felt compelled to offer the guys something other than fruit salad or oatmeal, so I pulled out a box of buckwheat pancake mix I'd bought during my last "whole grain" phase. Being whole grain, the batter got thicker by the minute and the pancakes came out almost like pieces of bread. Tasty enough, but heavy! Next time I'll have to add a lot more liquid than the recipe called for. Anyway, I did eat my fruit salad first but ended up snarfing down one of the loaves pancakes, with the syrup and butter of course. Lunch was OK, but I got the munchies in the afternoon and ended up snacking (mostly fruit) most of the day. By dinnertime I was at a complete loss. I didn't want to cook another stir-fry or another bean-and-tomato-stew thing, so I made up the bag of 15 bean soup that had been sitting around in the cupboard for awhile. And bean soup simply cries out for cornbread.

The cornbread came out great (sigh), but the bean soup was... adequate. I didn't want to use the enclosed "ham flav-r" packet so I had to wing the seasoning. Winging it is not one of my gifts. Notice the conspicuous lack of vegetation on the menu.

Today the scale showed me up 3 lbs. Discouraging, although I'm sure I can flush that out fairly quickly.

This morning, the fruit salad got on my nerves. My BAS at lunch got on my nerves. For some reason I was irritated by my standard beans and lettuce, although I will be doing the same for dinner since my son is eating dinner at his dad's. Good thing, too, or I would be at a complete loss as to what to feed him. And since it was cold, windy, and wet, I didn't walk to get my afternoon coffee -- I stopped and got it on my way back from lunch. I feel like I cheated and that gets on my nerves.

Insult to injury, all of a sudden I can't get decent romaine at my usual store.

I'm hoping I can catch the fire again real soon, like, by tomorrow. This is where I could easily fall and not be able to get back up.